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By the Mttioi of 
"Uncle Tiii)i)»'6 CoiivexsatioiLS" 


D.Appleton. & Company COO Tiroailwaj 











,«*v»-vV ^\ «**\ 

Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1843, 


in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States, 

for the Southern District of New York. 

13 Chambers Street, New York. 


Q "-' 


The writer of this volume has thought it best 
not to encumber a book written for the young, 
with references to authorities. He owes it to 
himself, however, to say, that he believes he has 
made no statement for which authority may not 
readily be produced. 

To any older readers, who may possibly glance 
at the volume, he would remark, that he is indebt- 
ed for his materials principally to Antonio de 
Herrera, Bernal Diaz, Antonio de Solis, Torque- 
mada, Clavigero, Don Telesforo de Trueba y 
Cosio, Venegas, the letters of Hernan Cortes, the 
English historian Robertson, and our own lament- 
ed countryman, R. C. Sands, Esq. 


7675- 247 






8TJ)is Volume 


By the Author. 



Birth and parentage of Heman Cortes — His early boyhood— 
At the age of fourteen he is sent to the University of Sala- 
manca — Proves lazy, and returns home — Leaves his books ? 
and takes to field-sports — Disappointment of his father — 
Passion of young Cortes for military life — Determines to 
join the great captain Gonzalo in the wars of Italy, but is 
disappointed — Resolves to accompany his kinsman Ovando 
to Hispaniola, but is prevented by an accident — At length 
reaches Hispaniola in 1504 — Kindness of Ovando — Restless- 
ness of Cortes — His third disappointment — Accompanies 
Diego Velasquez in his conquest of Cuba — Imprudence of 
Cortes — Expedition of Hernandez de Cordova and Juan de 
Gnjalva — Discoveries of Grijalva — Excitement among the 
Spaniards — Cortes manages to get command of an expedi- 
tion for the continent — Jealousy of Velasquez — Attempts to 
stop him at Trinidad and Havana — Enthusiasm among the 
followers of Cortes Page 13 


Cortes arrives at Cozumel — Imprudence of Alvarado — Discov- 
ery of Geronimo de Aguilar — his wretched condition — The 
fleet reaches Tabasco — Hostility of the natives — Cortes 
offers to treat with them ; they refuse — Notwithstanding 
their opposition, he makes his landing — Defeats th^m on the 
great plain of Ceutla — Receives Dona Marina as a present — ■ 
He erects a cross upon the plain — The fleet sails for St. Juan 
de Ulua — Reaches that harbor — Kindness of the natives — 
Interview with Teutchlile, their chief— Demands that he may 
see the Emperor Montezuma, and sends presents to him — 
Alarm of Montezuma — He refuses to see the strangers, but 
sends presents to them -Cortes again demands to see him — - 
Anger and fear of the Emperor — Commands Cortes to leave 
his empire, yet sends him further presents . . 31 



Teutchlile arrives at the Spanish camp with the commands of 
Montezuma — Finds Cortes in the midst of difficulties with 
his men — Leaves the camp angry — Murmurs of the men — 
Management of Cortes — Commences the settlement of Villa 
Rica de la Vera Cruz — Quiets the complaints of the discon- 
tented — The Cacique of Chempoalla invites him to visit him 
■ — Cortes accepts the invitation — Interview between them — 
The settlement is removed to Quiabislan — Friendship of the 
Caciques of Chempoalla and Quiabislan — The tax-gatherers 
of Montezuma arrive — Cortes arrests them — The Totonacas 
become his friends — Visits the Cincapacingas — Makes friends 
of them — Imprudence of Cortes in the temple of Chempoalla 
— Sends messengers with presents to the King of Spain — 
Plot of Escudero and Centeno to stop them — They are put 
to death — Cortes destroys his fleet, and prepares to march 
toward Mexico — Arrival of Alonzo de Pineda upon the coast 
— Stratagem of Cortes — Sets out on his march — Passes Xal- 
apan, Socachema, and Texotla, and arrives at Xocotlan — 
Interview with the Cacique — Determines to pursue his jour- 
ney through the province of Tlascala ... 46 


Cortes enters the Tlascalan territory — Character of the people 
— Wars with the Tlascalans — Cortes subdues them — They 
become his allies— Marches to Cholula— Conspiracy and aw- 
ful massacre of the Cholulans 64 


Cortes sends messengers to Montezuma, and leaves Cholula — 
Alarm of Montezuma — The Spaniards reach the summit of 
Ithualco, and see the valley of Mexico — Montezuma retires 
to the palace of Tlillancalmecatl to mourn and pray -Sends 
his nephew Cacamatzin to dissuade Cortes from entering his 
city — Cortes crosses the causeway of Iztapalapan — Meets 
Montezuma — His splendid appearance — Enters Mexico, and 
makes his quarters at the palace of Axajacatl — Montezuma 
visits him — Cortes returns the visit — By his permission, visits 
the great market-place, the temple, &c. — Is disgusted in the 
temple — Anger of Montezuma — Suspicions of the Tlascalans 
— Death of Escalante — Treachery of the nobles — Cortes re- 
solves to seize Montezuma — Enters his palace, and carries 
him away to the Spanish quarters .... 83 



Montezuma becomes satisfied at the Spanish quarters — Arrival 
of Quauhpopoca — He is delivered to Cortes — His confession 
— Is tried, and condemned to die — Montezuma is fettered, 
and Quauhpopoca burnt — Revolt of Cacamatzin, the lord of 
Tezcuco — He is made a prisoner — Cortes persuades Monte- 
zuma to swear allegiance to the King' of Spain — and to 
send him a present of gold and silver — The nobles are roused 
— Montezuma orders Cortes to leave the country — allows 
him time to build ships for his departure — Arrival of Pam- 
philo de Narvaez with eighteen ships — Cortes is ordered 
again to leave — His joy and disappointment — Treachery of 
Montejo — Anger of Velasquez — Endeavors to make a friend 
of Narvaez — Sends him messages and presents — Narvaez 
proves stubborn — Cortes leaves one hundred and fifty men 
with Alvarado at Mexico, and marches to Chempoalla — At- 
tacks him at midnight and makes him a prisoner — The sol- 
diers of Narvaez gladly enlist under him . . 102 


Insurrection of the Mexicans in the capital — Struggles of 
Cortes — Death of Montezuma — Awful conflict in the temple 
— The Spaniards retreat from Mexico — Dreadful massacre 
on the causeway of Tacuba — Cortes escapes with the rem- 
nant of his army to the temple of Otoncalpolco — Determines 
to go to Tlascala . 120 


Battle of Otompan — Victory of the Spaniards — Cortes reaches 
Tlascala — Kindness of the Tlascalans — The soldiers of Nar- 
vaez murmur — Cortes receives unexpected reinforcements — 
The murmurers are sent home — He despatches messengers 
to Spain, Hispaniola, and Jamaica — Orders ship-timbers to 
be cut in the Tlascalan forests — Makes his head-quarters at 
Tezcuco — Death of Cuitlahuitzin — Guatimozin is made King 
of Mexico— Cortes attacks the cities Iztapalapan, Chalco, 
and Tlalmamalco — Sandoval reduces Zoltepec — The timbers 
for the brigantines are brought to Tezcuco — Xaltocan and 
Tacuba are reduced— -Guatimozin refuses terms of peace — 
Quauhnahuac and Xochimilco are attacked— Narrow escape 
of Cortes — Conspiracy of Villafana — Courage and address of 
Cortes— The brigantines are launched ... 140 



The siege of Mexico is commenced — Dreadful massacre of the 
Spaniards on the causeways — Narrow escape of Cortes — 
Frightful festival of the Mexicans in the temple — Their cun- 
ning — Prudence of Cortes — The siege is renewed — Message 
to Guatimozin — His scornful answer — The Spaniards enter 
the capital — The last quarter is besieged — Guatimozin is 
made prisoner— The capital reduced — Disappointed avarice 
of the Spaniards — Guatimozin is put to the torture — Cortes 
snatches him from his tormentors — Death of the Mexican 
King — Conquest of the distant provinces— Enmity of the 
Bishop of Burgos toward Cortes — Rebuilding of the capital — 
Cortes liberates Narvaez 157 


Revolt in Panuco — Intrigues in Spain against Cortes— His 
friends support him — The King makes him Captain-General 
and Governor of New Spain — His great popularity— Arrival 
of Garay — Imprudence of his men — Slaughter of the Panu- 
chese — The Bishop of Burgos and Narvaez continue their 
intrigues — Treachery and death of Christoval de Olid — 
March of Cortes to Honduras — The King issues a commis- 
sion to investigate his conduct — Fidelity of the soldiers of 
Cortes — He embarks for Spain— Death of Sandoval — Recep- 
tion of Cortes at the Spanish court — He returns to Mexico 
disappointed— Difficulties with the Audiencia— Embarks in 
new adventures— Discovery of California — Fails in his plans 
— Returns to Spain — Ingratitude of the King— Scornful treat- 
ment of the ministers — Death of Cortes — His remains are 
taken to Mexico 174 




HO has not heard of that dar- 
ing and fiery Spaniard, Hernan 
Cortes, the Conqueror of Mex- 
ico ? The story of his exploits 
is as wild as a fable, and were 
it not now a well-known part 
of the history of Mexico, could 
scarcely be believed. To 
those of my young fellow-citizens 
who may be ignorant of his career, 
I offer the history of this remarka- 
ble man. 
_j/^* If you will look upon a map of 

^V¥)* Spain, in the province of Estremadura, 
*^$F?3Sf' you will find the small town of Medel- 
~0/j lin. At this place, in the year 1485, 

Hernan Cortes was bom of poor but respecta- 
ble parents. His parents (Don Martin Cortes 


de Monroy and Dona Catalina Pizarro de Altami- 
rano) were of noble descent, had been once rich, 
but were now reduced. Whatever others may 
think, I consider it fortunate that young Cortes 
was born poor. Had he been the child of a rich 
man, he might have been reared in the midst of 
foolish luxuries and indulgences, fed a life of idle 
dissipation, and proved utterly worthless : as it 
was, his poverty forced him to make exertions and 
to struggle with the world. Poverty helped him, 
as it has helped many others ; it taught him to 
rely upon his own energies. It was particularly 
fortunate in his case ; for his natural temperament, 
as you will see, was just such as to ruin him, had 
he been born to a rich inheritance. 

Of the earliest years of his boyhood I can tell 
you nothing, except that he was a warm-hearted, 
sprightly, and intelligent lad, admired and beloved 
by all who knew him. At the age of fourteen he 
gave such promise of future usefulness,*that his 
father determined he should have the advantage 
of an education, to fit him for the study of the 
law. Young Cortes was sent, therefore, at this 
time, to the celebrated University of Salamanca. 
Here, for the first time, he disappointed the ex- 
pectations of his friends. His ardent and restless 
nature could not well bear the close industry and 
confinement of college life, and boys of inferior 
parts outstripped him in his studies. At the eml 


©f two years, I am sorry to say that he was worse 
than lazy. He was now so weary of his situation, 
that he became the leader of many wild and mis- 
chievous irregularities — so much so, that more 
than once he came near being expelled from the 
University. At length, to the great sorrow of his 
father, he left Salamanca, and returned to Medel- 
lin. Here, laying aside all books, he devoted him- 
self to active and manly sports, and made himself 
skilful in horsemanship and the use of arms. 

For some time he continued in this career, and 
being, unfortunately as it proved at the time, a boy 
of fine appearance, amiable disposition, and enga- 
ging manners, he brought about him many com- 
panions, and launched with them into many dissi- 
pations. His father was now very miserable. Far 
from dreaming that his son would ever reach honor 
or distinction, he feared that he was in a fair way 
to prove a worthless and unhappy man. One hope, 
however, was still left him. The boy had a pas- 
sion for military life, and sighed for daring adven- 
tures as a soldier. This passion was carefully 
cultivated by the father, and in a little time, when 
an occasion presented itself, young Cortes showed 
that he was fully alive to it. The " Great Cap- 
tain" Gonzalo de Cordova was adding to his fame 
in the wars in Italy, and crowds of Spanish youth 
were eager to flock to his standard. Among the 
rest was Hernan Cortes. Numbers enlisted, but 


when they were about starting on their march to* 
join Cordova at Naples, young Cortes was sudden- 
ly seized with sickness, and thereby kept at home. 
This was a sad disappointment to the boy, as well 
as his father. 

Another opportunity for adventure, however, soon 
offered, with fairer prospects for Cortes. Don 
Nicolas de Ovando, his kinsman, had been ap- 
pointed the Governor of Hispaniola, and Don 
Martin supposed that, under the patronage of this 
kinsman, a fair field was opened before his son in 
the New World. Young Cortes now forgot his 
disappointment, and set his heart upon accom- 
panying Don Nicolas. Great preparations were 
making for transporting the new Governor to his 
dominions ; and, as he watched the progress, his 
desires were the more inflamed. Thirty-two ships 
were soon ready, and twenty-five hundred persons 
(many of them people of rank) were about em- 
barking as settlers for the new colony. But when 
all was ready, Cortes was again prevented from 
being one of the number. This disappointment 
was brought about by his own folly and rash- 
ness. It seems that he had formed an attachment 
for a lady at Medellin, and on a dark night, before 
the ships set sail, was trying to reach the window 
of her chamber. In doing this, he had to scram- 
ble over an old wall, which unfortunately gave way 
under him, and he was severely injured by the fall- 


The ships, therefore, sailed without him, leaving 
young Cortes sick and sorrowful, and his father 
deeply mortified. 

At length, having slowly recovered, his father 
once more turned his thoughts toward the New 
World. Young Cortes still burned with the desire 
to join his kinsman Don Nicolas ; and all being 
made ready accordingly, he left Medellin, and ar- 
rived safely at Saint Domingo, in the year 1504. 
Ovando welcomed him cordially, receiving him 
like his own son. He at once fixed him in places 
of distinction and profit, and seemed in every way 
determined to push his fortunes. Notwithstanding 
this, Cortes was restless, and in a little time pant- 
ing for a wider field, where he might earn, as he 
thought, fame and glory. He was better satisfied 
when a circumstance occurred, which he thought 
opened that field. Two Spaniards, Ojeda and 
Nicuesa, had determined upon an expedition for 
the purpose of making discoveries and settle- 
ments upon the main land of America. Cortes 
heartily joined them in this enterprise, laboring 
with diligence to make all things ready. But 
when, at length, all was ready, his companions 
departed, leaving him too sick to undertake the 
voyage. He was now very miserable over this 
third disappointment, but afterwards, when he 
learned the result of that expedition, he looked 
upon the disappointment as a blessmg. It was the 


most unfortunate attempt ever made by the Span- 
iards in the New World. The poor adventurers 
suffered sorely by tempests ; and when at length 
they landed, the poisoned arrows of the natives, 
together with disease and famine, swept off the 
most of them. A little colony planted upon the 
Isthmus of Darien, by Vasco Nunez de Balboa, 
was all that remained of the enterprise. Yet with 
all this, he had a thought that had he been among 
the adventurers, things might have gone better ; 
and his heart was stjjl bent upon discoveries and 
conquests. Among all the wild schemes of adven- 
ture talked of among the settlers at Hispaniola, 
none were too wild for him : he was ready, in fact, 
for any daring expedition, — the more daring the 

In 1511, Don Diego Columbus, who had suc- 
ceeded Ovando as Governor, determined upon the 
conquest of the island of Cuba, and Cortes re- 
solved to bear his part in it. The Governor se- 
lected as the leader of this enterprise Diego Ve- 
lasquez, a man well known in Hispaniola ; and 
Cortes managed by his ability to be made, with 
Andres de Duero r joint secretary to Velasquez. In 
a little time all was ready, and Velasquez departed 
with a large number of followers. He anticipated 
a struggle in subduing the natives of the island, 
and had made preparations for it ; but, strange to 
tell, an island seven hundred miles long, and cov^ 


ered with numerous inhabitants, was brought into 
subjection almost without an effort. The cacique 
Hatuey opposed his landing, and afterwards gave 
him some trouble, but with his three hundred men 
he was soon master of the island, and established 
several colonies, the principal one being at St. 

Cortes, seeing the advantage of his position, cul- 
tivated warmly the friendship of Velasquez ; and 
as he knew that Andres de Duero had his par- 
ticular confidence, he managed to make a warm 
friend of him. Many of the people, however, 
soon became dissatisfied with Velasquez, and de- 
termined to send complaints against him to Don 
Diego Columbus. Cortes, by his manly bearing, 
had made friends of the multitude, and when they 
came to choosing some one who should bear their 
complaints, the boldness and sagacity of Cortes 
prompted them to choose him. It was a danger- 
ous business, for the bearer would not only pro- 
voke Velasquez, but would risk his life in passing 
over to Hispaniola in a canoe. Yet Cortes impru- 
dently agreed to undertake it. Velasquez was 
so provoked, that he declared he should suffer the 
punishment of death. Men were immediately 
ordered to arrest him. But Cortes, hearing of this, 
managed to make his escape, and hid himself in 
the church. Feeling safe here, he determined to 
remain until Andres de Duero could induce the 


commander to pardon him. His ardor and impru- 
dence, however, soon revealed his hiding-place. 
He had formed an attachment for a young woman 
of good family, called Dona Catalina Suarez de 
Pacheco. She lived not far from the church, and 
Cortes was in the habit of meeting her. The offi- 
•cers knew this, and kept watch for him. One 
night, having left the church, thinking he was un- 
seen, he was suddenly surprised, seized before he 
could make any resistance, and led off to prison. 
He seemed now to have so much sorrow for his 
error, that Velasquez was induced to forgive him. 
Afterwards, having married Doha Catalina, upon 
the birth of his first son, he requested the Gover- 
nor to stand as the god-father. To this Velasquez 
cheerfully consented, and now they seemed as 
warm friends as ever. Cortes bore himself in eve- 
Ty way kindly towards him, and lost no opportu- 
nity of making himself agreeable to him. 

Desirous of extending his dominions, Velasquez, 
in tiie year 1517, had allowed Hernandez de Cor- 
• cfova to sail with a small expedition from Cuba, 
and he had discovered the eastern cape of Yuca- 
tan. It was an unfortunate expedition, — the com- 
mander and the greater portion of his soldiers hav- 
ing perished in it. Yet the accounts which Ve- 
lasquez had received, induced him to fit out another 
and more powerful expedition. Four vessels were 
at once made ready, and Juan de Grijalva, at the 


head of two hundred and fifty men, took the com- 
mand of them. In a short time, he discovered the 
island of Cozumel, and then following in the track 
of Cordova, coasted along the shores of Yucatan, 
trading with the natives, giving them such trinkets 
as he had, for gold and food. At last he made a 
landing on the island of St. Juan de Ulua. The 
Mexicans upon the coasts were now greatly 
alarmed. They had never seen such men or 
weapons as they now beheld, and they instantly 
sent messengers to their chief, Montezuma, telling 
him of the arrival of these new visiters. Monte- 
zuma was greatly frightened by their news. It is 
said that from this time he had no peace, living 
daily in the fear that his empire would be taken 
from him. The Spaniards remained several days 
at the island, and succeeded in finding some gold. 
Grijalva, after making his observations, became 
convinced that the coast near by was part of a 
continent, and he panted to land there and push 
his discoveries. There was danger, however, in 
this, as he did not know the character of the peo- 
ple whom he should meet, and the number of his 
men had been greatly reduced by disease. He 
resolved, therefore, to wait until he could get a 
reinforcement from Cuba, and accordingly sent a 
messenger back to Velasquez to get assistance. 
Having done this, he pursued his discoveries about 
the province of Panuco, which he found covered 


(it is said) with large and populous towns at the 
distance of three leagues from the coast. 

In the mean time, his messenger, Pedro de Al- 
varado, had arrived in Cuba, bearing specimens of 
gold, and telling of the wonderful discoveries of 
Grijalva. Velasquez was greatly delighted : like 
all his countrymen at that time, he was thirsting 
for gold and conquests. His delight, too, was the 
greater, because he had heard nothing before from 
Grijalva since he sailed, and had feared he was 
lost. His fears had at one time been so intense, 
that he had despatched a vessel under the com- 
mand of Christoval de Olid to seek him. Olid 
had followed in the track of his companions, but 
after being beaten about with tempests, had re- 
turned to Cuba without any tidings of them. 

Alvarado's story soon spread over the island, and 
multitudes were eager to join Grijalva. The pros- 
pect of wealth and glory was now fairly opened 
before them, but among them all there was none 
more excited than Hernan Cortes. Velasquez im- 
mediately sent messengers to Spain with the glo- 
rious news of Grijalva's discovery, and then com- 
menced fitting out an expedition for the new con- 
tinent. The vessel was soon ready, and three 
hundred volunteers came forward, desirous of em- 
barking. Among these were Diego de Ordaz, 
Francisco de Morla, Escobar, and Bernal Diaz del 
Castillo, who afterwards wrote a History of the 


Conquest of Mexico. Now came the time for 
choosing a leader for this expedition. Velasquez 
knew very well that a good leader was everything 
in such an enterprise, and he was very cautious. 
Some recommended to the Governor to appoint 
Vasco Porcallo, a man of high rank, while the sol- 
diers were in favor of Grijalva. Others spoke of 
Augustin Bermudez, and Bernardino Velasquez, 
relatives of the Governor, as fit persons, but none 
of them pleased Velasquez. The truth is, the 
Governor was jealous. He was desirous of ap- 
pointing some one who was capable of leading 
the enterprise, and at the same time one who 
would not slight his authority. He was seeking 
his own glory. 

From the beginning of the preparations, Hernan 
Cortes had determined, if possible, to be the leader 
of this expedition. He was himself on good terms 
with Velasquez, but was not willing to trust the 
chance of success to that. He knew that there 
were two individuals possessing more influence 
over the Governor than any others : these were 
Amador de Lares, the royal treasurer of Cuba, and 
Andres de Duero, his secretary ; and these, fortu- 
nately, were warm friends of his own. He bar- 
gained with these, therefore, to procure for him the 
command of the expedition, promising to reward 
them amply if they should succeed. Their attach- 
ment for Cortes, together with this hope of reward^ 


induced them to urge his claim warmly. They 
declared to Velasquez that Cortes (as he well 
knew) was in every way fitted to take the com- 
mand — that he was honorable, prudent, and fear- 
less, and greatly beloved by all the Spaniards. 
Velasquez was pleased with the thought. He felt 
that Cortes was the proper man as to ability, and 
the thought that he possessed neither rank nor for- 
tune, prevented any jealousy towards him. Cortes 
had behaved well whenever he had been trusted, 
and Velasquez was convinced he might be trusted 
now. Then, too, he remembered the friendship 
that had been kept between them since the mar- 
riage of Cortes, and naturally enough supposed 
that their former difficulty made him the safer man 
for this occasion. To the great joy of Coites, Ve- 
lasquez declared publicly that he was to be the 
leader of the expedition. 

As soon as this appointment was made known, 
the disappointed relatives of the Governor began 
to beset him with strange stories of Cortes, hoping 
to startle his fears, that he might take the command 
from him. Nor did they work in vain. They 
succeeded so far in making him jealous, that his 
friends Lares and Duero became alarmed. They 
immediately gave notice to Cortes of what was 
doing, and he as quickly, before the poison had 
time fully to work, made all things ready for a start. 
He then went to see the Governor, and had along 


talk with him about the whole enterprise. Velas- 
quez was now so much pleased, that on the next 
morning, when Cortes was about to sail, he went 
with him to the vessel, and they had a warm and 
affectionate parting. 

It was on the 18th day of November, 1519, that 
Cortes set sail from St. Jago. In a little time he 
reached Trinidad, a small settlement upon the 
island, and here discovered that his enemies were 
still at work to ruin him. Disappointed ambition 
is a base enemy to deal with. Cortes had no soon- 
er sailed, than the kinsmen of the Governor told 
worse stories than ever. They knew the jealous 
nature of Velasquez, and worked upon it freely. 
They declared that Cortes was selfish and ambi- 
tious, and would despise his authority ; — that he 
must expect nothing but insolence from him. Ve- 
lasquez for some time felt easy ; for notwithstand- 
ing his friendly parting with Cortes, he had given 
commands to Diego de Ordaz, one of the adven- 
turers, to watch him, and report to him whatever 
was done. He felt, therefore, that he had a spy 
upon the actions of the leader, and this gave him 
confidence. But these disappointed men worked 
upon him until he began to feel that his spy would 
prove faithless. Then they began to frighten him 
in a new way : they hired a man named Juan Mil- 
lian, who pretended to be an astrologer, to help 
them in their mean design, and this fellow prophe- 


sied terrible sorrows if the command was not taken 
from Cortes. All the suspicions of Velasquez were 
now roused. He knew the vessel was to touch at 
Trinidad, and now he sent his messengers with posi- 
tive orders to Francisco Yerdugo, the chief magis- 
trate of the place. These orders were, to take the 
command from Cortes and give it to Vasca Por- 
callo. Secret instructions were sent also to Diego 
de Ordaz to assist in this matter. But, fortunately, 
the friends of Cortes had not forgotten him. Lares 
and Duero knew what mischief was at work, and 
they secretly sent news of the whole to Cortes. 
He at once understood the danger of his position, 
and understood as well how to meet it. Knowing 
that much depended upon making a friend of Diego 
de Ordaz, he sought him immediately. The open 
bearing of Cortes, with his powerful persuasions 
and brilliant promises, at once won the friendship 
of Ordaz. So far from aiding the commands given 
toVerdugo,hewentto the magistrate and convinced 
him that it was impossible to obey the commands 
of Velasquez. Cortes, he declared, had the hearts 
of the people, and it was idle to oppose him. Some 
think that Verdugo was bribed, but it is more proba- 
ble that the great popularity of Cortes made him 
afraid to attempt to carry out his orders. At all 
events, Cortes was undisturbed. To blind Velas- 
quez, he now wrote him a friendly letter, and then 
set sail from Trinidad. 


Ere long he reached Havana, another settlement. 
Here he commenced beating up recruits, and gath- 
ering stores and provisions to strengthen his arma- 
ment. This was easily done ; multitudes eagerly 
joined him. Cortes hurried this business as rap- 
idly as possible, for he still feared the jealousy of 
the suspicious Governor, and expected every hour 
the arrival of orders to stop him. In this fear he 
was not mistaken. He had not yet completed his 
arrangements, when the order came. Velasquez, 
more enraged against him than ever, because Verdu- 
go had not obeyed his commands, and now certain 
that Cortes meant to defy him, sent a messenger 
with secret instructions to Pedro Barba, the com- 
mander at Havana, ordering him at once to seize 
Cortes, send him under a strong guard to St. Jago, 
and then delay the expedition until he should re- 
ceive further orders. The principal officers were 
also commanded to aid Pedro Barba in arresting 
Cortes. Fortunately for Cortes, he was again ad- 
vised of this plan. Bartholomew de Olmedo, chap- 
lain to his armament, having received from a monk 
secret information of the whole, informed Cortes, 
and he at once prepared to meet the danger. The 
two officers whom he most feared as being ready 
to assist Pedro Barba, were Velasquez de Leon, a 
relation of the Governor of Cuba, and Diego de 
Ordaz, whose conduct, notwithstanding what had 
passed at Trinidad, was sometimes suspicious. 


Velasquez de Leon was a frank, warm-hearted, and 
ambitious young man, and Cortes easily won him 
to his cause by telling him of the glory that was 
before him, and the danger of any delay to the ex- 
pedition. As to Ordaz, he determined to get him 
out of the way for a time, and therefore sent him 
to Guaniguanico, near Cape Antonio, that he might 
get further supplies of provisions for the voyage. 
As soon as Ordaz had left, Cortes assembled all 
his men. He now told them of the meanness and 
jealousy of Velasquez, in trying to take the com- 
mand from him for no cause whatever. Then he 
spoke of the foolish order for delaying an expedi- 
tion in which they were all so eager to embark, 
and in which they were all to earn so much glory, 
— an order he declared to be the more outrageous, 
because they had all spent their own private means 
in equipping for the enterprise. The men were 
greatly aroused. They were attached to Cortes, 
and they knew his worth as their leader. They 
begged that he would never give up the command, 
and promised that they would risk their lives any- 
where, wherever he might lead. This was pre- 
cisely what Cortes desired. He declared that he 
would be their leader, and that he would guide 
them to that rich and beautiful country for which 
they were panting — a country in which every man 
should find wealth and honor. He then took an 
oath that he would never forsake such faithful and 


trusty followers. The air now rang with their 
shouts. While some cried out that they would 
stand by Cortes for ever, others uttered terrible 
threats against his enemies. He was now fixed in 
his command ; he had the hearts of all his men. 
They looked upon him as a leader chosen by them- 
selves — their noble and bold friend and companion, 
who was to lead them on to victory. Pedro Barba 
at once wrote to Velasquez, telling him that it was 
impossible to fulfil his orders ; and Cortes sent him 
a second letter, informing him that on the next day 
he should sail from Havana. 

The fleet of Cortes now consisted of eleven 
vessels, one of which was of one hundred tons, 
three of seventy, and the rest only open barks. 
His followers numbered six hundred and seventeen 
persons. Of these, one hundred and nine were 
sailors and mechanics ; the remainder were to act 
as soldiers. As to regular soldiers, there were 
among them all, only sixteen horsemen, thirty 
musketeers, and thirty-two cross-bowmen ; the 
others were armed only with spears and swords, 
the use of which they little understood. To add 
somewhat to their strength, however, there were 
on board the fleet " ten cannons and four falconets." 
Instead of shields or coats of mail to defend them 
from such enemies as they should meet, which 
articles would have proved heavy in a warm cli- 
mate, their leader had supplied them all with jack- 


ets quilted with cotton. This was the whole force, 
with which Cortes was now prepared to seek and 
subdue the new continent. 

To urge his followers onward the more, Cortes 
mingled with their dreams of glory, the thought 
that they were to extend the religion of our bless- 
ed Saviour. The spirit of the age, and the religion 
in which they had been trained, allowed this idea, 
and they really supposed that their warlike expe- 
dition, among other things, was to spread the gos- 
pel of peace. Strange thought, yet it was theirs ? 
The Spaniards therefore hailed with enthusiasm 
the banner which Cortes raised over them. It 
was a standard of velvet, richly embroidered with 
gold, bearing the royal arms and a large cross, to- 
gether with this motto : " Companions, let us follow 
the cross, for under this guidance we shall conquer" 




ORTES having divided his 
men into eleven companies, 
and placed captains over 
them,* they all embarked, and 
on the 10th of February set 
sail from Havana. Ere long 
they came near the island Co- 
zumel. The frightened inhabi- 
tants, seeing the approach of the 
^fleet, fled from the shores. Nor 
were they idly frightened, for they 
soon felt the hands of the plunder- 
ers. Pedro de Alvarado's company 
'was the first to land, and seeing in one 
of the temples an idol, beautifully adorn- 
ed with gold, they instantly stripped it, 
and seized two or three of the natives 
Cortes, seeing that such rashness would at once ruin 

* The names of these captains, many of whom were after- 
wards distinguished, were as follows : Juan Velasquez de Leon, 
Pedro de Alvarado, Hernandez Portocarrero, Francisco de 
Montejo, Christoval de Olid, Juan de Escalante, Francisco de 
Morla, Francisco Salcedo, Juan Escobar, and Gnies Gnortes. 
Cortes himself had charge of one of the companies. 


his prospects, immediately rebuked Alvando, and 
caused him to release the prisoners and deliver 
up the ornaments. Upon this the natives lost 
some of their fears, and mingled freely with the 

Cortes now observed that the natives frequently 
used the word Castillano, and this led to an im- 
portant discovery. He knew that the word must 
have been learned of some Spaniard, and therefore 
supposed that one or more of his countrymen might 
be on the island. After a long search, he succeed- 
ed in finding one man, and the poor fellow was 
happy indeed when they discovered him, for he 
had gone through many sorrows. He was com- 
pletely black, was covered only with a few rags 
thrown loosely over his shoulders and around his 
waist, and had grown to be, in his manners, almost 
an Indian. Upon his back he carried a small bun- 
dle, in which, among other trifles that he had, were 
some pieces of a prayer-book. It was with great 
difficulty that he told his story to his countrymen, 
for he had almost lost the use of his native tongue. 
His name (he said) was Geronimo de Aguilar. 
He was a native of Ecija, and had received holy 
orders. Eight years before, he had been wrecked 
on a voyage from Darien to Hispaniola. He and 
his companions tried to save themselves in a boat, 
but storms had driven them upon the coast of Co- 
zumel, where they were seized by the natives and 


reduced to slavery. Some of them had at length 
been sacrificed, and many had died of hard labor. 
He had at last, by the providence of God, found a 
friend in one of the Caciques, who took care of 
him and treated him with kindness. Of all his 
companions, one only remained beside himself, 
and he had joined the Indians and become one of 
their tribe. Cortes immediately took this poor 
fellow into his service, and, as it turned out, he 
proved a great help in acting as an interpreter be- 
tween his countrymen and the Indians. 

On the fourth of March the fleet left Cozumel 
and moved towards the river Tabasco. At this 
place Cortes expected a friendly meeting with the 
natives, inasmuch as Grijalva had there been treat- 
ed very kindly. In this he was disappointed. It 
seems that these friendly people had been reproach- 
ed by the neighboring tribes, for their kind recep- 
tion of Grijalva. And now, when Cortes came in 
sight, instead of friends he found enemies. Every 
thing seemed warlike. He saw canoes moving 
about filled with warriors, and thousands of men 
assembled on the shore to oppose him. Cortes at 
once knew that he was to have a struggle, but, de- 
sirous of peace if possible, he requested of the peo- 
ple through Aguilar, that he might meet their chiefs. 
This they promptly refused, at the same time ma- 
king dreadful threats against the Spaniards. Cor- 
tes made no farther attempt to treat with them, but 


determined at once to disembark near the town, 
and meet the difficulty. Accordingly, he kept on 
his course up the river. The natives, seeing this 
movement, flocked to the spot where they supposed 
he would land. Crowds soon covered the banks 
of the river in that quarter, shouting and making a 
tremendous noise with their trumpets and drums. 
Nevertheless, the fleet cast anchor, and the land- 
ing commenced. Clouds of arrows were now 
poured in upon them from the land, while the war- 
riors in their canoes opposed them fiercely with 
their lances. But the resolute Spaniards were 
not to be driven back. Through the water and 
mud, they fought their way in spite of numbers, 
and reached the bank. This was no sooner done, 
than Cortes placed himself at the head of his men, 
and made a tremendous attack upon the natives, 
which soon scattered them. He now reviewed 
his troops, and found that fourteen of his followers 
had been wounded. He resolved, therefore, not 
to pursue the enemy, but fixed his camp for the 
night, and posted his sentinels around to prevent 
any surprise. 

In the mean time, the news of their defeat was 
carried through the country by the Indians, and 
they rallied in strong numbers for another struggle 
upon the great plain of Ceutla. Cortes had ex- 
pected this, and prepared himself to meet it. His 
horses (thirteen only in number) were brought 


ashore, the best riders were mounted upon them, 
and he himself took the command of this little 
troop of cavalry. His other troops (the infantry 
and artillery) were trusted to the command of 
Ordaz and Mesa. Matters being thus arranged, 
he pushed forward to meet the enemy. Ere long, 
they came in sight of them. The whole plain was 
covered with the multitude, and a hideous looking 
multitude it was. With their faces daubed with 
red and black paint, and armed with their shields, 
lances, bows, and slings, they were moving about, 
making ready for the battle ; while here and there the 
Spaniards marked the chiefs, with tufts of feath- 
ers on their heads, who seemed to be urging them 
on. The woods rang with the noise of their drums 
and trumpets. Sweeping round the plain with his 
horsemen, Cortes managed to pass unseen to the 
rear of the enemy, so as to prevent any retreat, 
while his other troops were to move directly for- 
ward and attack them in front. The Indians, how- 
ever, did not wait for their attack. Thinking the 
first blow the best, they gave it themselves. As 
soon as they saw them, they pressed forward and 
let fly a tremendous volley of arrows. The Span- 
iards for a moment fell back ; one man was killed, 
and twenty wounded. The artillery troops now 
rushed forward, and bringing their guns to bear, 
literally raked down the Indians. Notwithstand- 
ing this, the Indians waged the light furiously and 


fearlessly, and the chances of war were in their 
favor, until Cortes showed himself. The plain was 
smooth, and he with his horsemen swept over it, 
carrying everything before them. This decided 
the day. The frightened Indians now saw that 
resistance was idle ; they looked upon horse and 
rider as one tremendous monster ; and such as 
could, fled for the woods and marshes. Eight hun- 
dred of their number were left dead on the field, 
while two Spaniards only had been killed. 

This was their second defeat, and now they 
were ready to submit. Fifteen men, with their 
faces painted black in sign of sorrow, were soon 
sent to the Spanish camp, bearing presents of fowls, 
corn, and roasted fish. Cortes received them with 
so much kindness, that on the next day thirty of 
the chief warriors came forward and begged the 
privilege of burying their dead. This favor Cortes 
readily granted. He feared, however, that these 
people were treacherous, and in a little time might 
rally again to oppose him. As soon, therefore, as 
the melancholy duty of burying the dead was end- 
ed, he assembled the people before him, and threat- 
ened awful vengeance if they attempted any further 
opposition. To frighten them the more, he caused 
one of the cannons to be discharged, and then his 
best-trained horses and riders were brought out, 
and various terrifying feats performed before them. 
The frightened natives now looked upon the Span- 


dards with amazement and reverence, and at once 
promised fidelity to the Spanish king. Not satis- 
fied with professions of love, they brought to Cortes 
many strange presents, such as toys of gold, made 
to look like dogs, lizards, ducks, and other ani- 
mals ; and to prove their friendship with a crown- 
ing gift, they presented to him twenty of their 

This last was the most valuable present, for among 
these women there was one who afterwards be- 
came known under the name of Dona Marina, and 
proved a great help to Cortes. She was a female 
of high rank among her countrymen — the daughter 
of a cacique or prince, who held his dominions sub- 
ject to the Emperor of Mexico. Unhappily for 
her, her father died while she was an infant. Her 
mother afterwards married again, and having a son 
by her new husband, learned to despise her daugh- 
ter. Her feelings were so bitter towards the child, 
that she determined to cheat her of her inheritance, 
that she might gain it for the boy. Accordingly, 
she secretly gave her away to some merchants of 
Xicallanco, and at the same time spread the story 
far and wide that the child was dead. The mer- 
chants to whom she was given sold her to one of 
the chiefs of Tabasco, and the chief now presented 
her to Cortes. This woman, as you will see, proved 
of great service in two ways. First, she acted as 
an interpreter : understanding the Mexican lan- 


guage and the Maja tongue also, which Aguilar un- 
derstood, she was able to interpret between the 
Spaniards and Mexicans. Then, too, she under- 
stood the manners, habits, and prejudices of the 
natives, and was enabled to help Cortes to many- 
advantages, and to guard him against many dan- 
gers — all which she did cheerfully, for she soon 
formed a strong attachment for the Spanish leader. 

Having thus brought the natives to his own 
terms, Cortes prepared to leave Tabasco. He 
caused his men (together with the Indians, who 
cheerfully assisted) to erect upon the plain of Ce- 
utla a large cross made of the Cieba-tree, as a me- 
morial of his victory ; and then Palm Sunday being 
at hand, he brought all the natives of the neighbor- 
hood together to worship around the cross with 
Father Olmedo. The Spaniards say, that many 
of these poor men were at once made converts to 
Christianity, and baptized by Olmedo ; but this can 
hardly be believed. Many were baptized, but 
probably not one of them knew what he was doing. 
They readily obeyed any wish of the Spaniards t 
and one wish was that they should be baptized. 
At all events, in the evening they parted good 
friends to their conquerors, the Indians promising 
a " perpetual love ;" and the next morning the fleet 
set sail for the harbor of San Juan de Ulua. 

Early in April,* they reached that harbor 

* Robertson says, the beginning of April — Bernal Diaz says, 
the 21st. 


Scarcely had they dropped their anchors and 
hoisted their standard, when Cortes saw two large 
canoes, full of people, coming towards the fleet. 
Two of these people seemed to be persons of note, 
and, without any signs of fear, came on board the 
principal vessel. They spoke to Cortes in a 
friendly way, and by means of Aguilar and Doha 
Marina, he was able to understand them. They 
were messengers (they said) from the chief who 
was trusted with the command of that province by 
the great Emperor Montezuma, and were sent to 
learn what had brought Cortes to their country, 
and also to offer any assistance they could render 
him for prosecuting his voyage. Cortes, in his 
turn, received them very kindly, assuring them that 
he himself was the subject of a mighty king, and 
had a message of great importance to deliver to 
their sovereign, which would greatly help their 
country ; and that he had towards them no thoughts 
but those of peace and friendship. At his invita- 
tion, they then refreshed themselves by eating, and 
after this they were sent back to the chief, loaded 
with quantities of toys as presents. The chief and 
his people were now greatly delighted. Far from 
opposing his landing, they were ready to aid him 
in making it, and when he ordered his men to erect 
their huts upon the shore, in this also they cheer- 
fully assisted. After a little time, a number came, 
bringing supplies of bread, fowls, and fruit, with a 


promise that the governor of the province would 
shortly visit him. 

Accordingly, on the next day, their chief, whose 
name was Teutchlile, in company with Quitlalpi- 
toc, another chief, came to the Spanish camp with 
a great train of followers. Cortes received them 
with great respect, and invited them to eat with 
him. This being over, he informed Teutchlile 
that he was a subject to Don Carlos, the greatest 
monarch of the world, and at his desire had come 
to their country with an important message to their 
sovereign ; that the message was such a one that 
he could deliver it to no person expect the Empe- 
ror himself, and therefore hoped he might imme- 
diately be allowed to see him. This greatly startled 
the two chiefs. They knew the fears and appre- 
hensions of Montezuma since the appearance of 
strangers upon the coast, and that it would be im- 
possible to obtain the privilege which Cortes 
sought, — and yet they were afraid to rouse the 
Spaniard by a refusal. Hoping to satisfy him 
in another way, Teutchlile at once ordered cer- 
tain rich presents to be brought forward, which he 
declared that Montezuma had sent, in the hope 
that Cortes would receive them. These consisted 
of a quantity of fine cotton garments, plumes of 
many different colors, and a variety of toys made 
of gold. The poor ignorant Indian did not know 
that the demand of Cortes was made only that he 


might reach the heart of their country, and that the 
sight of his rich presents would only excite him 
the more, and make him the more determined to 
carry out his purpose. Cortes received his pre- 
sents in a friendly way, and in return gave them, 
as presents for Montezuma, some artificial dia- 
monds, a richly-carved arm-chair, and a crimson cap 
adorned with a golden medal of Saint George ; and, 
with this, demanded more earnestly that he might 
he taken to the Emperor to deliver his message. 

While all this was going on, some of the follow- 
ers of Teutchlile were busy in painting upon pieces 
of white cotton, pictures of the strangers, with 
their ships, horses, and cannon. Cortes, hearing 
that these pictures were to be taken to Montezu- 
ma, that he migrht learn something of his new vis- 
iters, determined that with them the painters should 
carry such a report as should terrify the Emperor. 
Accordingly, he immediately ordered his troops to 
form in battle array, and with great skill they went 
through their military exercises. Then his horse- 
men were brought forward, and the Mexicans stood 
speechless as they looked at their fierce and won- 
derful performances. Next the cannon were dis- 
charged, and now they were completely overcome : 
some fled, while others fell flat on their faces. It 
was with great difficulty that Cortes, after a while, 
succeeded in calming their fears, and bringing 
them all again around him. 


Cortes now again urged his demand, and at 
length, with fair promises that his message and 
presents should be delivered to Montezuma, and 
that he should soon have an answer, Teutchlile 
with his train was leaving the camp, when sud- 
denly he saw a helmet which he greatly desired. 
It looked (as he said) like the helmet that adorned 
the head of Haitzilopochtli, their god of war, and 
begged that he might present it to the Emperor. 
This request Cortes readily granted, and they all 
departed. This last gift, as you will see, proved 
to be a most unfortunate present. 

Before these messages reached Montezuma, he 
had been greatly alarmed by rumors as to these 
strangers. It seems that the Mexican Empire 
was managed with great system in every way. 
Along the principal roads, couriers were placed at 
certain distances, and through them news was 
rapidly carried from one end to the other of the 
empire. In this way he had gathered strange 
stories of Cortes and his followers. At length the 
messengers arrived. Montezuma was pleased 
with the presents, but their pictures, together with 
their stories and the helmet, greatly increased his 
alarm. The helmet called up in his heart the 
saddest forebodings. His head was full of super- 
stitions, and he saw in this helmet something 
which told him of the end of his empire. There 
was a stransre tradition among the Mexicans at 



this time, " that Quetzalcoatl, the god of the air> 
had disappeared a long time ago, promising to re- 
turn after a certain time to rule over the people of 
Mexico."* Montezuma fancied that these Span- 
iards in their armor were like the god of the air, 
and trembled for his authority. To the demand 
of Cortes he gave a positive refusal, and yet, afraid 
to provoke him, to lessen his disappointment, and 
secure his friendship, he determined upon sending 
him some very rich presents. Accordingly, in les3 
than a week, Teutchlile and his followers again 
reached the Spanish camp, laden with these pres- 

As they came into the presence of Cortes now r 
in token of respect they touched the earth with 
their fingers, and then kissed them. Their splen- 
did presents were then brought forward. There 
were cloths of cotton worked so finely that they 
resembled silk, beautiful pictures made of different 
colored feathers, various toys of animals made of 
gold, together with collars and bracelets of the 
same precious metal, pearls and precious stones, 
and, best of all in the eyes of the Spaniards, was 
an enormous plate of gold made in the form of a 
circle, to represent the Mexican age of fifty years, 
having the sun in the centre. f Cortes received 

• Clavigero's Mexico. 

f This piece was very massive, nor could it be less than ten 
thousand sequins in real value. — Clavigero's Mexico. 


these with great delight, and then demanded when 
he should see the Emperor. The messengers, in 
as mild a way as possible, informed him that Mon- 
tezuma was not disposed to see him at his court ; 
that he feared the Mexicans would be excited if 
strange soldiers were seen in the capital of the 
empire, and moreover that he thought it dangerous 
for Cortes to attempt to reach him, inasmuch as he 
would have to pass through barren deserts, meet- 
ing many hostile tribes. Cortes was now more 
decided than ever. He insisted upon being taken 
immediately to the emperor, declaring that he 
would never leave their country, until he had faith- 
fully delivered the message of his master Don 

The messengers were now in a worse condition 
than before. They had seen Montezuma's fears 
and they now saw Cortes' resolution. Afraid to 
offend either party, they at last prevailed upon 
Cortes to remain with his men where he was, un- 
til they should bring him a farther message from 

Reaching the capital again, they found the Em- 
peror in the same fearful state of mind, and his 
fears became greater when he learned how Cortes 
persisted in his demand. It seems strange, that 
this great monarch should have been so much 
startled by the appearance of a handful of strangers 
in his kmo-dom. His dominions were two hundred 


leagues from north to south, and five hundred from 
east to west ; they were covered by a numerous 
and warlike race of men, and he himself had almost 
the complete control of his people. Often had he 
led them on to victory, until his name had come to 
be a protection to friends and a terror to enemies, 
and had he at once marched against the Spaniards 
he might readily have crushed them. But the truth 
is, he was a slave to superstitious fears, and, like 
most men frightened in this way, the longer he look- 
ed at danger, the greater it seemed to be. The poor 
man's head was filled with old traditions, and 
prophecies, and strange dreams, and everything 
seemed to tell him that the end of his great empire 
was at hand. When the messengers told him that 
Cortes still insisted on seeing him, he was pro- 
voked as well as frightened at his boldness. In a 
storm of passion, he swore that the Spaniards 
should never leave his country ; that he would 
seize them all, and sacrifice them to the gods — 
then his fears mastered him, and he gave up all 
thought of attacking them. Thus wavering be- 
tween anger and fear, he did not know what to 
do, and was hardly fit to attempt anything. At 
length, he despatched his messengers, with posi- 
tive orders to Cortes to leave his country imme- 
diately, while at the same time his fears prompted 
him to load these same messengers, with rich pres- 
ents once more for the Spanish chief. 




HEN Teutchlile again reach- 
ed the Spanish camp, Cortes 
was in the midst of difficulties 
with his own men. Notwith- 
standing his great popularity, 
it seems there were some few 
in his army who were friends 
to Velasquez, and these watch- 
ed all his movements very closely. 
They had noticed that in all his or- 
ders, and especially in taking pos- 
Tl session of the island Cozumel, the 
name of Velasquez was not even 
once mentioned, and they now began 
to beat up friends among the men, de- 
claring that Cortes was selfishly ambi- 
tious, thinking only of himself, and seeking his 
own glory. Dissatisfied themselves, they mag- 
nified every little trouble, to make the men dis- 
contented also with their leader. The spot where 
the camp was pitched was sandy, and swarmed 
with musquitoes, and this was spoken of. The 


provisions were becoming scanty — the bread was 
spoiled — the bacon was rotting — and they alarmed 
the men with the fear of starvation. This scarcity 
of food Cortes had himself noticed, and had pro- 
posed to seize on the strong town of Chiahuitzla, 
where they would find supplies. This they com- 
plained of, saying that it was risking their lives 
for nothing, that they were but a small band, al- 
ready weakened ,by disease and fatigue, and could 
hope for no success in such an undertaking. The 
spirit of discontent was thus beginning to run high, 
when the messenger arrived with positive orders 
from Montezuma that the strangers should leave 
his country. Cortes received this message with 
great calmness, and tried to frighten the messen- 
ger, but Teutchlile only treated him with scorn, 
and left the camp very angry. 

Now the murmurs among the discontented be- 
came louder. They looked upon the message of 
Montezuma as a declaration of war against them, 
and openly declared they were not able to meet 
it. Diego de Ordaz, their principal leader, was 
chosen to go before Cortes in their name, to tell 
him of the madness of remaining in the country, 
and that they were determined to return to Cuba. 

Cortes received this also with great coolness,, 
and at once ordered his troops to prepare for their 
return. But the truth is, that as these difficulties 
had been increasing, he had prepared himself to 


overcome them. He knew that he had certain 
strong friends around him. These were Porto- 
carrero, Sandoval, Alvarado,Escalante, Olid, Lugo, 
and Bernal Diaz, and to these he had spoken 
plainly telling them of the danger that threatened 
the expedition, and they had spoken to many of 
the men. These now came forward and declared 
that they could never think of returning ; that they 
had spent all their means, and left«every comfort to 
embark in the enterprise, and that it was cruelty to 
them to turn back merely because some of the men 
were too cowardly to go on. They called on 
their commander to lead them on to victory, since 
they were ready to follow, and to let all who were 
not bold enough for the adventure, return to the 
Governor of Cuba. This was precisely what Cor- 
tes desired and expected. In reply, he declared 
that he was ready and anxious to remain, and had 
proposed a return homeward, only because he sup- 
posed it was the desire of his followers ; that now 
he was delighted to find he had mistaken their 
wishes. Since they had shown the fearless feel- 
ing of true Spaniards, he was ready to lead them 
on, and should try to prove himself a proper com- 
mander for such brave adventurers. These words 
of Cortes had a wonderful effect upon the army. 

Still his plan was not yet completed. As the 
friends of Velasquez thought that his authority 
was slighted, Cortes determined that he would 


make himself in every way independent of that 
authority. For this purpose, he now, with great 
solemnity, commenced a settlement in the country, 
giving to the new colony the name of Villa Rica 
de la Vera Cruz.* The men were all assembled 
next, to choose officers for the new colony ; and, 
as Cortes expected, the authority was given to 
Portocarrero, Alvarado, and Olid, three of his prin- 
cipal friends. As soon as these officers met in 
council, he came before them. He began by telling 
them that they were intrusted with great powers 
for the good of the settlement, and that he should 
be always ready to support them ; and that since 
they were the chosen officers of the people, he 
could not think it right or proper that he should any 
longer keep the command which was given to him 
by Velasquez. He had come, therefore, to deliver 
up his commission to them, and was ready to take 
his place in the army as a common soldier. With 
this he left them. 

He had no sooner departed, than the three offi- 
cers elected him to the command of the army, as 
well as to the chief management of the colony. 
Then, to secure the good feelings of the men, the 
whole army was at once assembled, and they told 
them what they had done. All the former success 
of Cortes was now set forth before them, together 
with his bravery and generosity, and the bright 
* The rich town of the True Cross. 


prospects before all those who should follow such a 
leader. The men were greatly excited. They 
vowed their attachment to Cortes, and took an oath 
to stand by him at all hazards. Some few still 
held back, but they were brought over by presents 
and promises. Now the ringleaders, Diego de Or- 
daz, Velasquez de Leon, Escobar, and Escudero, 
were more angry than ever, and spoke more loudly 
against Cortes, in spite of all the numbers in his 
favor. To stop this, he instantly caused these 
men to be seized and fastened with fetters. In a 
few days they were set free, and Cortes offered to 
send them back to Cuba ; but they chose rather to 
remain with him now. Their discontent seemed 
at an end, and all was again quiet and peaceable* 
Thus Cortes had managed to be more firmly fixed 
than ever in the hearts of his companions. His 
difficulties had only aided him. 

As they still felt the want of food, Alvarado was 
now sent with a hundred men to scour the neigh- 
boring country, and, if possible, obtain supplies. 
In a little time, he returned with good news, but 
he and his men had been startled by some things 
which they saw. They had passed through cer- 
tain villages, where there was abundance of food, 
and in one had entered one of the temples of the 
natives. There, to their great horror, they found 
the bleeding bodies of men and boys who had just 
been sacrificed, for the knife lay reeking with blood 


beside them. It was impossible for him to learn 
anything from most of the natives whom he saw, 
for they fled at the sight, of him. He had met only 
one party who seemed friendly, and these were 
laden with provisions, and seemed to be going 
towards the Spanish camp. In a short time, this 
party came in with their supplies, and presented 
themselves before Cortes as messengers from the 
Cacique of Chempoalla, with a warm invitation 
from the Cacique that the strangers would visit him. 

Cortes received them kindly, but doubted at first 
as to accepting this invitation, fearing there was 
treachery in it. He asked the messengers many 
questions, and at length discovered that their Ca- 
cique, though subject to the Emperor of Mexico, 
was no friend to Montezuma. This was enough 
to bring him to a conclusion, for he at once saw 
what advantage he might make of it. He there- 
fore dismissed them, thanking the Cacique for his 
kindness, and promising that he would soon come 
and see him. 

The spot where the settlement was begun was 
not a good one, and Cortes only waited for the 
arrival of Francisco de Montejo, whom he had 
sent in search of a better, to keep his promise 
with the Chempoallans. At the end of twelve 
days he came back, reporting that he had found a 
place called Quiabislan, with a fine harbor and a 
fertile soil. Cortes determined at once to remove 


his settlement there, and as Chempoalla lay in the 
way to this place, he was soon ready for his de- 
parture. When the Spaniards reached Chempo- 
alla, they were surprised and pleased to see its 
large houses and wide streets lined with beautiful 
trees. The meeting was very friendly between 
the Cacique and the Spanish chief. The Cacique 
came forward with his principal men, all dressed 
in rich mantles of fine cotton, adorned with gold, 
and Cortes at once embraced him. He imme- 
diately began to complain of the cruelty and 
oppression of Montezuma, and expressed great 
joy that the Spaniards had arrived. Cortes at 
once saw that the poor man deserved and needed 
protection, and therefore, weak as he was with his 
little band, he offered himself as his protector. 
It was the desire of the Emperor Don Carlos 
whom he served (he said), that he should protect 
the weak, and free all who were oppressed ; that 
he saw that his wrongs were many under the 
cruel tyrant Montezuma, and in a little time he 
would see that they were ended. With this pro- 
mise he left the Chempoallans greatly delighted, 
and pushed on to Quiabislan. 

He found this place to be just what Montejo had 
described it, and immediately marked out the 
ground for making the settlement. Then he led 
the way in the work, carrying materials and dig- 
ging the ground for the foundation. His officers 


and men followed his example, the Indians readily 
assisted, and in a little time, the settlement was 
quite a comfortable place. While these things 
were going on, the Caciques of Quiabislan and 
Chempoalla frequently visited him, and talked of 
nothing but the tyranny and oppression of the 
Mexican Emperor. They, had suffered much 
themselves, but were particularly bitter against 
Montezuma, on account of his late cruelties in the 
territories of the Totonacas, where they declared 
multitudes of men had been sacrificed by him. 
While they were thus one day talking with him, 
the news arrived that the tax-gatherers of Monte- 
zuma had come to the province to receive the an- 
nual tax. Next came a summons from these offi- 
cers to the Caciques, calling upon them instantly 
to deliver up twenty of their men and women, to 
be offered as a sacrifice for their guilt in entertain- 
ing the strangers, contrary to the positive commands 
of Montezuma. The poor frightened Caciques 
were afraid to disobey the command, and thereby 
call down upon themselves the wrath of the Em- 
peror. And yet they trembled at the thought of 
obedience. Cortes at once relieved them. He 
ordered his own men instantly to seize the tax- 
gatherers, and then issued his proclamation that 
no taxes should ever afterward be paid to Monte- 
zuma. The cowardly Caciques were now made 
strong by his boldness. In their rage against 


Montezuma, they declared that his collectors should 
be sacrificed to the gods, and but for Cortes it 
would have been done. He had to place a guard 
of his own soldiers around them to protect them. 

The position of these Caciques was now dan- 
gerous enough. They knew the power and dread- 
ed the wrath of the great Emperor Montezuma. 
His authority had been defied in their dominions, 
and they knew the consequence. They were 
themselves startled at the boldness of the Spaniards, 
for never before had they seen the power of their 
Emperor resisted. Indeed, they looked upon the 
strangers as supernatural beings, and gave them 
the name of Teules, a title which was bestowed 
upon their idols. Yet they rejoiced while they 
trembled, and knowing that there was no escape 
for them except through the Spaniards, they sought 
their friendship more earnestly than ever. Cortes 
quieted their fears as well as he could, by promis- 
ing them his protection, and they in their turn 
swore fidelity to the Spanish king, declaring that 
they were no longer the subjects of Montezuma. 
The Totonacas, who smarted perhaps most un- 
der his cruelty, were the fiercest now in their op- 
position 5 but the three tribes, all with one accord, 
solemnly declared that they would follow Cortes 
in his expedition. 

His strength was now somewhat increased, but 
very soon by his management he made friends of 


a fourth tribe. These were the people of Cinca- 
pacinga. It seems that the Cacique of Chempoal- 
la had a bitter feeling towards these people, be- 
cause (as he said) of certain outrages committed 
by the garrison there, and he urged Cortes to 
march against their town. The Spanish chief ac- 
cordingly set out upon his march, but as he cam© 
near he learned from the Cincapacingas another 
story. Eight of the principal men came for- 
ward in great sorrow, entreating him not to molest 
them, declaring that the Chempoallans hated them 
on account of some old disputes about the boun- 
daries of their territories. Cortes, anxious to make 
as many friends as possible, ordered that the peo- 
ple should be undisturbed, and that their town 
shoidd not be plundered. Then he brought the 
unfriendly Caciques together before him, and per- 
suaded them in his presence to come to terms of 
peace. Their quarrel was settled, and he had new 

He was now fairly in the country, backed by 
the affection of his own men who knew his value, 
and the friendship of four tribes that looked to him 
for protection and loved him for his justice toward 
them.* All things thus far had been managed 

* Cortes was very particular just at this time in punishing 
any of his followers who trespassed upon the rights of the na- 
tives. It is said that he even carried his discipline so far, as 
to order one of his men to be hanged for stealing some fowls in 
a peaceable territory, and the poor fellow would have lost his 
life but for the efforts of Alvarado. 


with great prudence, and it is strange that we find 
Cortes just at this time guilty of an act of great 
imprudence. His early education, however, may 
in a measure excuse it. He had before this re- 
buked Alvarado for stripping an idol at Cozumel, 
and now he was himself guilty of a greater outrage 
of the same kind, towards the natives. He had 
entreated the Chempoallans to leave off the bloody 
rites of their religion. The priests were greatly 
shocked at his proposal, and immediately roused 
the people to oppose it. Cortes now became an- 
gry — instantly ordered fifty of his men to arms, 
and started to invade the temple. The Cacique 
begged him to do no violence, but the Indian warri- 


ors seeing his determination, seized their weapons 
for a struggle. Cortes marched on and ascended 
the steps of the temple. Seeing the warriors 
gathered to oppose him, he seized the Cacique 
with his principal officers and the priests, and de- 
clared he would instantly kill them if any resist- 
ance was made. The Indians now laid aside 
their arms and looked on with tears and groans. 
Cortes entered their temple — their idols were 
thrown from the altars and broken in pieces. He 
commanded then that even the fragments should 
be burned. The priests now came forward in 
their long black mantles, with their hair reach- 
ing to the ground clotted with blood, and their ears 
lorn and cut, gathered up the pieces and burned 


them in the midst of the temple. The next com- 
mand was to wash and purify the place ; and afteu 
this the holy cross was raised upon the altar, and 
Father Olmedo invited the people to worship. 
The poor Chempoallans submitted to this, for they 
were weak and needed his protection. 

The followers of Cortes had now been in the 
country nearly three months, and began to grow 
impatient to march toward Mexico. He was him- 
self as eager as any, but had not yet arranged all 
things as he desired. The thought of the oppo- 
sition of Velasquez tormented him, and he was 
determined if possible to have the approbation of 
Don Carlos, the King of Spain. He gathered 
his principal friends together, and told them 
that before starting, he thought it best to send 
special messengers to the King ; and that, to please 
Don Carlos, it would be well to send to him by 
the same messengers a present of all the treasures 
thus far discovered. These friends approved the 
plan, and proposed it to the men. Strange to tell, 
almost every man willingly stripped himself of all 
he had gained thus far to swell the present of Don 
Carlos. It was for the common good, and that was 
sufficient. Portocarrero and Montejo were at once 
chosen as the messengers. With positive instruc- 
tions that they should by no means touch in their 
voyage to Spain at the Island of Cuba, the mes- 
sengers set sail, bearing to Don Carlos the pres- 


-ent and a letter from the officers of Villa Rica, giv- 
ing glorious accounts of Cortes, and the rich 
country which he had discovered for the kingdom 
of Spain. 

The messengers had scarcely left, when a plot 
was formed by some of the soldiers and sailors to 
seize one of the vessels, sail to Cuba, and inform 
Velasquez of what was going on, that he might 
stop them on their way. The plot was so secretly 
managed, that it was discovered just in time to 
prevent it. The conspirators had gone on board 
the vessel, when one of their number, named Co- 
ria, who was about joining them, suddenly repented 
of his treachery, came to Cortes, and informed 
him of the plan. He immediately went on board 
the vessel, and not one of them dared deny the 
crime. They were all seized and brought ashore. 
Escudero and Centeno, the ringleaders, were in- 
stantly put to death ; Umbria, the pilot, had one of 
his feet cut off; and two of the sailors received 
two hundred lashes. This was terrible punish- 
ment, but Cortes excused himself by the plea of 
necessity. The rest of the gang he spared, saying 
that they were unfortunately led off by the bad 
example of the ringleaders. 

Cortes was now very unhappy. This plot con- 
vinced him that there were still dissatisfied men in 
his camp ; that all was not peace as he supposed. 
He knew that where this was the case, troubles 


of the same kind were likely to occur again ; but 
in his anxiety a thought flashed upon his mind, 
that he would prevent them for ever. A bold 
determination was now in his heart. He again 
gathered his principal friends, and told them that 
he was resolved to destroy the fleet ; that thereby 
he would gain all the sailors for soldiers ; and that 
his men, having then no chance of escape, must 
either conquer or die. As usual, they approved 
of his daring resolution ; the soldiers were talked 
to, and many were ready to join heart and hand in 
a plan which added one hundred sailors to the 
army. Escalante was soon busy in dismantling 
the ships, and the hulls were sunk. The skiffs 
only were saved, for the purpose of fishing. Thus 
they were locked up in the country. To conquer 
or die was truly all that was now before them, and 
Cortes at once commenced his preparations for 
invading Mexico. 

Assembling all his men at Chempoalla, he made 
a stirring speech to his army, telling them of the 
glory that was before them. The force now con- 
sisted of five hundred infantry, fifteen horsemen, 
and six pieces of cannon. To these he added two 
hundred Indians of a low grade, called Tamenes? 
who were to act as beasts of burden, and four hun- 
dred warricrs, selected, by the request of the Ca- 
cique of Chempoalla, from among his troops. 
Then taking from the Caciques a promise that they 


would aid, as far as they could, his settlement at 
Villa Rica, left under the command of Escalante* 
he was ready for the march. 

At this moment, a messenger came in hot haste 
from Villa Rica, to tell him that a vessel was 
cruising near the coast. This startled Cortes ; in 
an instant he supposed that this was some ship 
sent against him by Velasquez. Leaving the com- 
mand of the army to Alvarado and Sandoval, he 
immediately set off, with a small party of horse, 
for Villa Rica. As he came near, he marked the ves- 
sel at some distance from the shore, and presently 
saw in his way four strange Spaniards coming tow- 
ards him. It seems that these men were a part of the 
crew of the strange vessel, and had been sent to 
the shore by the captain, Alonso de Pineda, to take 
possession of the country. The captain was aware 
that Cortes was in possession, and had given them 
a document to present to him, — which document 
stated that, by a royal commission, Francisco de 
Garay, the Governor of Jamaica, was to have au- 
thority over all the coast he might discover to the 
north of the river of Saint Peter and Saint Paul. 
Three ships had therefore been sent by Garay, 
bringing two hundred and seventy soldiers, undei 
the command of Pineda, who was just now in the 
river of Panuco. They presented the document, 
at the same time commanding Cortes not to come 
upon the new territory of Garay. Receiving it, 


he begged that he might see their captain, and 
make a fair arrangement with him, declaring 
that they were both subjects to Don Carlos, and 
seeking the glory of their common kingdom. This 
they refused ; and Cortes, without hesitation, or- 
dered them to be seized. He then hid himself 
with his men all night behind a sand-hill near the 
coast, hoping that more soldiers would be sent 
from the ships to look for their comrades, and that 
he might seize them and persuade them to join 
him. Finding himself disappointed in this, he now 
employed a stratagem to bring them ashore. Four 
of his men were dressed in the prisoners' clothes, 
and sent to the coast to make signals. In a little 
time, a boat was seen making to the shore. From 
some cause or other (suspicion of the plot, perhaps), 
only three men landed — the rest pushing off, and 
hurrying back to the ship. These three, however, 
were instantly secured. Having now no hope of 
gaining more men, and little to fear, as he thought, 
from Francisco de Garay, with his seven new 
soldiers he pushed back to his army. 

On the 16th of August, the army commenced 
the march towards Mexico. For a little time they 
fared very well, passing through Xalapan, Soco- 
chima, and Texotla, where the people were inde- 
pendent of Montezuma, and consequently received 
them Very kindly. After this they came upon a 
wild and mountainous region, filled with frightful 


precipices, where no human being lived. The 
weather was extremely cold, provisions began to 
run low, and withal they were pelted by heavy 
hail-storms. They felt now that their hardships 
had commenced ; but, trained to difficulties, and 
thirsting for glory, they moved on without a mur- 
mur. At length they arrived at Xocotlan, on the 
confines of Mexico, and were greatly cheered by 
the change. The chief city lay in a beautiful 
valley at the foot of the mountains ; the lofty tem- 
ples, and houses plastered and whitewashed, rose 
pleasantly before them, and for a moment they 
thought of their homes in the Old World. Cortes 
at once sent a message to the Cacique, informing 
him of his arrival ; and he presently showed him- 
self, with a large number of followers. The 
Spanish chief was greeted kindly, to all appear- 
ance, but, as he thought, not sincerely ; and he 
was confirmed in this thought when he found that 
his troops were but poorly provided for. He con- 
sidered it best, however, to make no complaints. 
For five days he remained at this place, learning 
all that he could of Montezuma and his kingdom. 
He questioned the Cacique very closely, and was 
told in reply that Montezuma was the most power- 
ful and wealthy monarch in the world ; and while 
he richly rewarded all his friends, his enemies 
were always looked upon as wretched beings, and 
sacrificed to the gods. The city of Mexico, where 


lie dwelt, was a strong fortress, where no enemy 
could take him. It was built in a lake, and could 
only be reached by three causeways, each of which 
had several chasms, which could only be passed 
by means of wooden bridges. The Spaniards 
heard all this with perfect calmness, and the Xo- 
cotlans began to look upon them also as Teules, or 
deities. The thought that men could live without 
fearing the great Montezuma, was to them incredi- 
ble. Then the skill of the soldiers, together with 
the appearance of the cannons and horses, startled 
the Cacique the more, and he now showed a dis- 
position to be very friendly. 

When Cortes was leaving, he seemed greatly 
interested in him, and urged him, on his jour- 
ney to Mexico, to take the route through the 
province of Cholula. There were multitudes of 
people (he said) in that province, for the most part 
peaceable men, living by cultivating the soil : there 
the Spaniards would meet with a kind reception, 
and find abundance. The Chempoallans, however, 
were of a different opinion. They now came for- 
ward, stating that the Cholulans were a treacher- 
ous race ; that no man could put any confidence in 
them ; and besides this, that their chief city was 
guarded by a garrison of Mexican soldiers. They 
begged that he would make his journey through 
the province of Tlascala, where the people were 
fierce and warlike, hated Montezuma, and would 


gladly receive him ; moreover, that these Tlasca- 
lans were strong friends to them and the Totona- 
cas. Cortes, thinking the advice of old friends, 
of whom he had had some trial, better than that 
of new ones, determined to go by the way of 




ENEWING his march, in a 
little time Cortes reached Xa- 
lacingo, on the borders of the 
hTlascalan dominions, and im- 
mediately prepared to send 
messengers into their coun- 
try, to tell them of his arrival. 
Four Chempoallans of high 
rank were chosen for this purpose. 
Dressed after the manner of ambas- 
sadors (with cotton mantles full of 
^ knots at the ends), and bearing a long 
arrow tipped with white feathers, 
the symbol of peace,* they departed. 
Contrary to all expectation, they were 
received unkindly. The Tlascalans at 
once seized them, and prepared to sacrifice them 
to their gods. Fortunately, through the neglect of 
the guard placed over them, they managed to es- 
cape, and hurried back to the Spanish camp with 
their awful story. The Tlascalans were angry, 

* An arrow tipped with red featheis was the sign of war. 


and swore that they would sacrifice the Spaniards, 
and all who should assist them, to the gods ; and 
were now gathering in vast numbers to stop their 

This news surprised Cortes. He had supposed 
that the warlike Tlascalans would have welcomed 
him as a strong ally to aid them in their opposition 
to Montezuma ; and that, at least, their friendship 
with the Chempoallans and Totonacas would have 
made them his friends. He was at a loss to know 
the meaning of their conduct : perhaps his mes- 
sengers had proved treacherous ; possibly the 
Tlascalans might have supposed that he was a se- 
cret friend to Montezuma ; or it might be that they 
had heard of what he had done in the temple at 
Chempoalla, and were determined upon revenge. 
These thoughts passed rapidly through his mind ; 
but the truth is, he was wrong in all : he had mis- 
taken the character of the Tlascalans. They were 
a warlike, independent people. They had once 
been governed by kings, but had shaken off the 
yoke, and formed themselves into a sort of republic. 
They had divided themselves into districts : each 
district had its separate ruler, who was elected by 
the people, and who represented his province in 
the general senate of Tlascala. It was not to be 
supposed that people who had thus struggled for 
independence and made a government of their own,, 
would receive a band of armed strangers kindly ; 


and had Cortes known as much of them, he would 
hardly have expected it. 

But surprise could not help him. He knew that 
a struggle was before him, and, without a sign of 
fear, he rallied his men for their march into Tlas- 
cala. Particular instructions were given to the 
different troops of his army, and then their beau- 
tiful standard was raised before them. Cortes, 
pointing to the banner, cried out, " Spaniards ! 
follow boldly the standard of the Holy Cross, 
through which we shall conquer ;" and the soldiers 
with one accord shouted, " On ! on ! in the name 
of God, in whom alone we place our trust." 

After a march of two leagues, the Spaniards 
came to a stone wall, which in former days had 
been thrown up by the Tlascalans to stop the in- 
vaders from Mexico. Finding no enemy, they 
easily crossed the wall and pressed on. It was 
not long now before the advanced guard of the 
army saw some of the Tlascalan troops, and had a 
slight skirmish. In a little time, as Cortes came 
forward with the main body, three thousand Tlas- 
calans rushed from an ambush and poured in their 
arrows upon them. The Spaniards met this val- 
iantly. After an obstinate struggle, the Indians 
were forced to give way and make their retreat. 
Yet Cortes marked that their retreat was made in 
an orderly and fearless manner, unlike the flight 
of most of the savages whom he had met ; and he 


felt at once that lie had to deal with no common 
Indians. He began therefore to be very particu- 
lar in choosing the spots where his army should 
halt, and guarding the encampments through the 
night ; and gave special command to the troops by 
no means to separate on their marches, but to pro- 
ceed in solid and compact order. 

The next day he was met by six thousand Tlas- 
calans. These instantly attacked him, filling the 
air with their arrows, and making the plain echo 
with their yells, drums, and trumpets. But the 
cannons made sad havoc among them, and in a 
little time they gladly retreated to the top of a hill 
in the distance, from which they soon disappeared. 
Following on, Cortes reached at length the same 
height, when the whole Tlascalan army burst upon 
his sight. The plain far and wide was covered 
with the multitude. Forty thousand men were 
there, under the command of Xicotencatl, the 
general-in-chief of the Tlascalan republic. Un- 
dismayed by the numbers, he commanded his men 
to keep together at all hazards, and commenced 
at once descending the hill, amid nights of stones 
and arrows. They reached the plain : the cavalry 
and artillery were fairly brought into the action, 
and once more, after an hour's hard fight, the 
Tlascalans retreated before them. This was an 
unfortunate day for the Tlascalans ; multitudes of 
their men were slain — how many, it is impossible 


to say, for, like all Indians, they carried off their 
dead to conceal their losses. Eight of their chiefs 
fell, while two were made prisoners. The Span- 
iards had fifteen men wounded, of whom only ono 
died. One of their horses, however, was killed. 
The Indians carried the body away in triumph, 
and, cutting it in pieces, sent parts of it to all the 
cities of Tlascala. 

Though victorious, Cortes was not satisfied with 
this hard struggle. The loss of one man was 
sorely felt by him ; and he felt, moreover, that if 
other nations should by any chance join the Tlas- 
calans, there was no hope of success to his enter- 
prise. He desired peace, therefore, and accord- 
ingly sent his two prisoners to their countrymen 
with offers of peace. To this friendly message, 
Xicotencatl only sent back this bold answer : — - 
" Bid them proceed to Tlascala, where the peace 
they shall meet from us shall be displayed by the 
sacrifice of their hearts and blood to the gods, and 
of their bodies to our feasts." 

Cortes now very coolly informed his men that 
they were to make ready for another battle ; and 
all that night they were busy in preparing their 
arms, ammunition, &c, and in making confession 
of their sins, and other acts of devotion. When 
morning dawned, they resumed their march, 
even the wounded men taking their places in the 
ranks. Ere long-, they came again in sight of the 


Tlascalan army. It covered the plain for two 
leagues : there were no less than fifty thousand 
men now gathered to oppose them ; the army was 
made up of five divisions, each division being under 
the command of a chief, and the whole led on by 
the general Xicotencatl. His banner, bearing a 
large white bird like a spread ostrich, was proudly 
carried before him. As the Spaniards came near, 
the Indians commenced the battle with a tremen- 
dous discharge of arrows, darts, and stones, and 
then, amid shouts and yells as usual, rushed di- 
rectly upon them. The artillery-men at once 
opened their cannons upon them, while the mus- 
keteers and crossbow-men kept up a continual fire, 
literally cutting down the multitude in heaps. Still 
the raging Tlascalans pushed onward without fear, 
and succeeded, for a moment, in breaking through 
the Spanish lines. It required all the courage and 
skill of Cortes to bring his men back to their po- 
sition. The cavalry now rushed over the plain, 
sweeping down masses before them. Yet the 
brave Tlascalans pressed on with their numbers. 
Wherever a man fell dead, it seemed another 
arose with fiercer spirit to revenge his death. 
Thus the battle raged furiously on both sides. At 
length it was seen by the Tlascalans that one of 
their divisions kept out of the fight, nor could be 
pressed into it — the chief who headed it being pro- 
voked with Xicotencatl. This discouraged them : 


they began to fall back, when one of their princi- 
pal chiefs fell dead, and they were completely dis- 
mayed — the battle was ended. But for these cir- 
cumstances, with all his skill and courage, Cortes 
had hardly prevailed against such numbers. It is 
very remarkable that in this fierce struggle the 
Spaniards had only one man killed. Seventy of 
their men, however, together with all their horses, 
were wounded. Some died of their wounds after- 

On the next morning, Cortes sent another mes- 
sage to the Tlascalans, demanding that he should 
be allowed to pass quietly through their territory, 
and threatening to desolate their whole country if 
they refused. But their fierce chiefs were not 
frightened : they did not yet feel that they were 
conquered, and determined to try his strength 
again. They now called together their priests, 
and demanded of them what could be the cause 
of their terrible defeat, and in what way they were 
to drive the invaders from their country. After 
performing many rites and sacrifices, the priests 
came forward and declared that the Spaniards 
were men like themselves, but were created by 
the heat of the sun in the regions of the East ; 
that during the day they were not to be conquered, 
because they were guarded by the sun : at night 
they were not thus protected, and might then be 
easily overcome. 


The Tlascalans made ready again. Num- 
bers soon gathered themselves, under the com- 
mand of Xicotencatl, for an attack at night. As 
they drew near the Spanish camp, the sentinels 
marked them, the alarm was given, the cavalry 
rushed forth, and after another fight the astonished 
Tlascalans fled in dismay. They were now con- 
vinced that the Spaniards were Teules — the mul- 
titudes began to cry out that it was time to make 
peace ; that the Spaniards were invincible. Anoth- 
er fierce message came from Cortes, and the senate 
was willing to have peace. Xicotencatl, in a 
rage, refused for a long time to come to any terms ; 
he was not used to being conquered ; but at last 
his proud spirit bent, and he consented to lay down 
his arms. 

They were now at a loss to settle how they 
should approach the Spanish chief ; they did not 
know what to think of him. He must be gentle 
and kind, for he sometimes released his prisoners 
of war, contrary to their way of sacrificing and 
eating them ; then again they thought he must be 
cruel and bloodthirsty, for they remembered that 
fifty spies sent out by Xicotencatl had once ap- 
proached his camp too closely, and, by his order, 
their hands were instantly cut off. Then, too, his 
fierce messages, and the tremendous slaughter that 
he had made among them, were calculated to 
frighten them. At length, forty of their chief men 


were started off, loaded with a variety of presents, 
some of which they hoped might please him, 
whatever he might be. As they came near, one 
of them advanced to Cortes, and said : " If you 
are Teales, as it is said, and desire human sac- 
rifices, take the flesh of these slaves and eat : shed 
their blood and drink. If you are gods of a kind 
nature, here is a gift of incense and feathers ; and 
if you are men, we bring you meat and bread for 
your nourishment." Soon after this, a large num- 
ber of Tlascalans were seen approaching. Cortes 
supposed that they were coming for purposes of 
peace, yet instantly ordered his men to arms. 
Four of them now came forward with marks of 
profound respect, and offered him incense. They 
came, on the part of the Tlascalan senate, to make 
peace with him and his people. The Tlascalans 
(they declared) had opposed them only because 
they thought they were the friends of the cruel 
tyrant Montezuma, and were now sorry for it : 
they begged that they might be taken under the 
protection of Cortes. The Spanish chief quickly 
accepted their terms, and offered his protection 
and. friendship to the whole republic. On the 23d 
of September (thirty-four days after reaching their 
territory), he triumphantly entered the city of Tlas- 
cala, the capital of their empire. 

It was fortunate for Cortes that the war was 
thus ended, for some of his men were beginning 


to be dissatisfied ; they had borne very cruel hard- 
ships. Every night half of them were on guard, 
while the other half only slept on their armor, 
ready to start up at any cry of danger. Fifty-five 
had perished since they entered the country, many 
were sick with diseases of the climate, and many 
were suffering from their wounds. Cortes was 
himself unwell, though he did not confess it. The 
number and fierceness of the Tlascalans, while it 
surprised all, had alarmed some, and these lived in 
the continual fear that they would be taken and 
sacrificed to the gods. It is not surprising, there- 
fore, that murmurings commenced, and that many 
begged that they might return to Cuba. But when 
the Tlascalans surrendered, all were animated 
with new courage. Then the earnest friendship 
and submission of the Tlascalans (for Cortes was 
received very warmly in their capital) roused their 
drooping spirits the more. It is said that these 
Indians even reverenced the Spaniards now, saying 
that they were born in heaven. Certain it is that 
the horses and riders were looked upon as super- 
natural monsters : they believed that these monsters 
devoured men in battle, and that the neighing .of 
the horses was their call for prey. Even when 
all was explained to them, they still held this be- 
lief. Their kindness and fears together drove 
away all discontent from the murmurers. No man 


sighed longer for the home left behind : all were 
greedy for the glory before them. 

The submission of the Tlascalans prompted 
Cortes to speak to them about giving up their re- 
ligion, with all its bloody rites ; for, strange as it 
may seem when we look at some of his acts, Cortes 
never lost sight of the thought that the spread of 
the gospel was a part of the business of his enter- 
prise. The Tlascalans refused, saying that while 
" the God of the Spaniards might be very great, 
they trusted in the gods of their forefathers." Upon 
this he was angry, and instantly prepared to carry 
out such a plan as before in the temple at Chem- 
poalla. But Father Olmedo entreated that this 
might not be done. He declared that this was not 
the way to spread the gospel, and that he had 
looked on with horror at the scene in Chempoalla. 
Alvarado, Velasquez de Leon, and Lugo joined in 
the entreaty, and Cortes was at last persuaded not 
to attempt it His anger, however, served one 
good purpose. In the temples there were some 
poor wretches kept in cages, fattening for sacri- 
fices, and Cortes caused all these to be set free. 

Having allowed his men sufficient time to rest 
at Tlascala, Cortes determined to resume his march 
for Mexico. Some Mexicans now came forward 
and urged him to march through Cholula, a large 
town, where he would be kindly received. But the 
Tlascalans were opposed to this ; they declared 


that the Cholulans were a treacherous people, de- 
voted entirely to the interests of Montezuma, and 
that he would necessarily find himself there in the 
midst of enemies. Still Cortes resolved to pass 
through Cholula. He was anxious to please the 
Mexicans, and at the same time to teach the Tlas- 
calans that he feared no enemy, whether concealed 
or open. With six thousand Tlascalans, therefore, 
in addition to his former numbers, he started for 

This town of Cholula was greatly celebrated for 
the temple of Quetzalcoatl that stood there. It was 
looked upon as the most sacred temple of the em- 
pire. Multitudes of pilgrims continually went 
there, and the sacrifices were almost daily. It is 
said that the Indians believed that this temple was 
built over secret springs of water, and that by 
pulling it down, these springs would burst forth 
into great rivers, and flood the whole surrounding 
country* Some have supposed that this belief 
prompted the Mexicans to advise Cortes to go 
there : the secret springs of Quetzalcoatl were to 
be let loose, and prove the sure destruction of 
himself and his army. 

As Cortes came near this town, the chiefs and 

priests marched out to meet him, bearing censers 

in their hands, and accompanied by a band of 

music. They received the Spaniards with pro^ 

* Torquemada ; Clavigero. 


found respect ; but when they saw the Tlascalans, 
they told Cortes plainly that all might enter their 
city except these, their old and bitter enemies. 
Cortes did not object to this ; and at once ordering 
the Tlascalans to remain encamped outside, with 
great ceremony he entered Cholula. It was not a 
great while now before he began to be dissatisfied, 
and to suspect that the Tlascalans were right as to 
the character of these people ; supplies of provis- 
ions began to be scantily furnished, and at last the 
Spaniards were left with nothing but wood and 
water. Ere long, some of the Chempoallans came 
to him and said that they had found secret pitfalls 
near the Spanish camp. These were large holes 
dug in the ground, having sharp stakes at the bot- 
tom, and covered over loosely with earth. " Then 
some of the Tlascalans entered the city in disguise, 
and informed him that they had seen large num- 
bers of women and children, loaded with valuable 
things, leaving the city by night ; moreover, that 
six children had just been sacrificed in the temple, 
and this was a sure sign that the Cholulans in- 
tended something. Besides this, they had observed 
that many stones and darts had been collected on 
the tops of the temples. All this roused his sus- 
picions very strongly. At length, Dona Marina 
came to him with certain information. She had 
learned the whole plan of the conspiracy. It seems 
that a Cholulan lady of high rank had become 


attached to her, and, desirous of saving Her life, told 
her of the plot, that she might escape. Twenty 
thousand Mexicans were at a short distance from 
the city, ready at a certain signal to join the Cho- 
lulans in the general massacre of the Spaniards. 
Cortes instantly ordered some of the chief priests 
to be seized ; and when they discovered that the 
Spaniards, or Teules, as they called them, knew 
everything, they confessed the whole. The en- 
mity and treachery of the Cholulans were now 

In his indignation and rage, at the first moment, 
Cortes was at a loss what to do ; at the next, he 
resolved upon signal vengeance. No time was 
to be lost. His principal officers were at once 
called together and told of the danger which threat- 
ened them, and his determination to be revenged* 
Some were for retreating to Tlascala, but most of 
them were ready heart and hand to join Cortes in 
his plan. He immediately ordered the Tlascalans 
to storm the city at the dawn of the next day, and 
to spare nothing but the women and children ; and 
then informed the Cholulans that he intended to 
resume his march on the following morning. 

These last were greatly delighted on hearing 
this, and they made haste to carry out their plot. 
At the break of day, the chiefs, with forty Cholu- 
lans, came into the open square in front of the 
Spanish encampment, and presently an immense 


number of troops rushed in and joined them. 
Cortes now mounted his horse and addressed 
them, telling them of the blackness and extent of 
their treachery. He knew all about it : the Span- 
iards (he said) had entered their city under a 
promise of friendship, and since their entrance 
had not done one unkind act towards the Cholu- 
lans ; that they had behaved peaceably, and in 
every way proved that they meant no harm ; that 
at their request he had even ordered a part of his 
army (the Tlascalans) to keep outside of the city ; 
and he now understood very well what they meant 
by that request — it was only made to separate the 
Spaniards from their friends, that they might the 
more easily destroy them. " If (cried Cortes) you 
had a natural hatred to men from whom you hack 
received no wrong, why not oppose us manfully 
and bravely in the field, like the Tlascalans, in- 
stead of resorting to means so cowardly and so 
treacherous to show your hatred and effect our de- 
struction? The victory which your gods have 
promised you, is beyond their power ; the bloody 
sacrifices which you expected to offer up to them, 
cannot be accomplished ; and the end of this dark 
plot will only be to turn the intended ruin against 
the guilty heads of its contrivers." 

The chiefs were completely confounded ; they 
did not deny what he said, but at once commenced 
making excuses, saying that all was done by the 


order of Montezuma. But Cortes would have no 
excuse. He instantly ordered a musket to be fired ; 
this was the signal to his men. The Spaniards 
sprang upon them, and the slaughter commenced ; 
the whole square was soon a scene of horror. 
Multitudes were slain upon the spot, while some 
who fled only fell into the hands of the enraged 
Tlascalans, who were now pouring into the city. 
Some rushed to the temple of Quetzalcoatl and 
razed it to the ground, hoping that the waters 
would burst out and drown the Spaniards. But 
the rivers would not flow. They were in despair. 
Other temples were filled with crowds, entreating 
the gods to save them. The Spaniards now sal- 
lied from their quarters, and swept the streets with 
their artillery, literally piling them with the dead. 
Then they rushed to the temples, and demanded 
the poor wretches there to surrender. A proud 
and scornful answer was sent back to the sum- 
mons : the temples were soon wrapped in flames ; 
the Spaniards pressed on, and fire and sword soon 
completed the massacre. It is said that only one 
man surrendered ; the rest choosing even to perish 
in the flames, or to throw themselves from the 
tops of the temples. Cholula was desolate: the 
streets rolled with the blood of six thousand men ; 
dead bodies and half-burnt corpses lay scattered 
throughout them. 

This horrid slaughter being ended, the Spaniards 


and Tlascalans now commenced plundering the 
houses and stripping the temples of all that was 
left. The savage ferocity of these last was almost 
beyond bounds. At length the heart of Cortes was 
moved with pity ; he looked upon the scene of 
havoc with horror. He now ordered Xicotencatl, 
who was there with twenty thousand men, to leave 
the place, as he should need him no longer ; and 
then issued his proclamation, promising pardon to 
all who had escaped the massacre, and inviting 
them to return to their homes. Some were now 
seen creeping from the masses of the dead, where 
they had lain wounded, and women and children 
came in from the mountains where they had fled. 
The Tlascalans were made to deliver up all their 
prisoners, and peace was established between them 
and the Cholulans, Cortes then appointed a brother 
of the late Cacique (who had been killed in the 
massacre) to rule over the city, and in sorrow de- 
clared to the Cholulans who were left, that the 
treacherous conduct of their people had alone 
forced him to this terrible work of slaughter. 

Well might Cortes be sorry for what was done. 
Six thousand of his fellow-beings lay butchered be- 
fore him.* All that can be said for him is, that he 
may have thought his conduct necessary for his 
own safety, and perhaps the Tlascalans carried 

* It is idle for Antonio de Solis to attempt to justify the 
action of Cortes ; it is not to be justified. 


the slaughter further than he intended. Yet this, 
which is all, is but a poor excuse for him. Per- 
haps it was his sorrow which prompted him ear- 
nestly to beg the Cholulans to leave off their bloody 
sacrifices and receive the Christian religion, and 
when they refused, to violate their temples no fur- 
ther than by setting free the poor wretches fastened 
in the cages for sacrifices. 




remaining a fortnight 


at the unfortunate town of 
Cholula, Cortes prepared to 
march on ; but, before start- 
up ing, called his officers togeth- 
er, and determined upon send- 
ing a messenger to Montezu- 

ma, to tell him that he was 
coming. The messenger was like- 
wise directed to inform him that the 
C Cholulans charged him with the 
guilt of their conspiracy, but that 
the Spanish general could not be- 
lieve them, for he could not think that 
he would thus attempt to murder men 
" ^|§ who had done him no harm ; that he 
had heard that Montezuma was a powerful king, 
and thought if he had any unkind feeling towards 
him, he would meet him boldly in the open field, and 
not resort to the cowardly meanness of stratagem ; 
moreover, that the Spaniards were ready for any 
difficulty, whether their enemies were secret or 


The messenger found Montezuma very unhappy. 
The news of the massacre at Cholula completely 
overcame him. He could not think without hor- 
ror of allowing the Spaniards to enter his capital ; 
and yet (poor undecided man !) in his fright and 
sorrow, he returned an answer, inviting Cortes to 
visit his city, and solemnly declaring that he had 
no part in the guilt of the Cholulans. The mes- 
senger had scarcely left, before he began to mourn 
bitterly over what he had done. 

In the mean time, Cortes had left Cholula, and 
was rapidly advancing towards Mexico. He met 
with no opposition by the way. Wherever he 
passed, the people cheered him on ; everywhere 
he heard from them bitter complaints of the tyran- 
ny of Montezuma, mingled with prayers that he 
would deliver them. The Spaniards felt great 
joy : they saw that the empire was divided ; that 
the people, even in the very neighborhood of the 
capital, were dissatisfied and ready to rise. Press- 
ing on with renewed spirit, they at length reached 
the top of Ithualco, when the beautiful valley of 
Mexico burst upon their sight. Now they were 
greatly delighted. As far as the eye could see, 
rich meadows, cultivated fields, and beautiful for- 
ests covered the plain. In the midst, like a sheet 
of silver, lay the lake Tezcuco, skirted around with 
pretty villages ; while from its centre rose glitter- 
ing in the sun the lofty temples and turrets of the 


city of Mexico. They looked upon the country 
which they had long panted to see, and felt that it 
was as beautiful as they had expected. 

While the Spaniards had thus inarched as far as 
Ithualco, Montezuma was in the heaviest sorrow — . 
still undecided — not knowing what to do. The 
news of Cholula had so much overwhelmed him, 
that he had gone to the palace of Tlillancalmecatl, 
the place to which he always went when he would 
mourn and pray. Here he remained eight days, 
fasting, grieving, and going through with many re- 
ligious services, to please the gods. From this 
place he sent another messenger to Cortes, en- 
treating him not to enter the city of Mexico, and 
making him rich promises if he would comply with 
his request. He would pay a yearly tribute to the 
King of Spain, and he would give four loads of 
gold to Cortes, and one to each of his men. The 
messenger found Cortes at Ithualco, and delivered 
his message ; but the Spanish chief only sent back 
the old answer — that he must see Montezuma, and 
deliver the message of his master Don Carlos. 

Before his messenger had time to return, Monte- 
zuma (with his fears greatly increased by the 
dreams and traditions of which his priests had told 
him) called in his brother Cuitlahuatzin, and his 
nephew Cacamatzin, the lord of Tezcuco, to ad- 
vise with them as to what he should do. His 
brother urged that the Spaniards should not be 


allowed to enter the city, while the nephew advised 
that they should. The advice of the latter was 
taken ; and the Emperor ordered him to go out and 
meet the Spanish chief, and in his name to speak 
to him very kindly. At the same time he told him,, 
if it were possible, to dissuade Cortes from entering 
the city. 

Four noblemen were instantly started for Cortes, 
to inform him that Cacamatzin, the lord of Tezcu- 
co, and nephew of the great Montezuma, was 
coming, and to beg that he would wait to receive 
him. In a little time, Cacamatzin appeared upon 
a splendid litter, borne by eight of his principal 
men, and surrounded by a crowd of Mexicans and 
Tezcucans. The Spaniards were wonderfully 
struck with the richness of this litter. It was 
adorned with jewels and pillars of gold, and from 
every golden pillar there were branches of rich 
green feathers. The noblemen helped Cacamat- 
zin to alight, and then swept the ground before 
him as he moved towards Cortes. The Spanish 
chief received him with great respect ; but when 
he spoke of Montezuma's wish, he received from? 
Cortes the same stubborn answer that had always^ 
been given — that he must enter Mexico, and se-& 
the monarch himself. 

Without waiting longer, Cortes pressed on tow- 
ards the capital, along the causeway of Iztapala- 
pan. He pretended on the way that he had friend- 


iy feelings towards Montezuma, and expected to be 
kindly received by him ; but at the same time was 
very cautious, as he moved along, to avoid any 
stratagem. At length he came to a place called 
Xoloc, about half a league from the city, where 
the main road to Mexico is met by that to Cojohu- 
acan. At this place there was a fortress, crowned 
with two towers. Here he found great numbers 
of the people assembled to look upon him and his 
companions, the strange beings of whom they had 
heard so much. A long train of Mexican nobles, 
clothed in their richest dresses, now came forward, 
and passing before Cortes, made a low bow, at the 
same time touching the ground and kissing their 
hands. Passing this place, he had almost reached 
the city, when messengers came out to inform him 
that the great Montezuma was approaching. Pres- 
ently, a long procession was seen. Three offi- 
cers, each bearing a golden rod, walked before, 
giving notice to the people that the monarch was 
coming, while they instantly threw themselves 
upon the ground, in token of respect. Montezuma 
was next seen, sitting upon a splendid litter, borne 
by four noblemen on their shoulders. Then came 
two hundred noblemen, dressed in their rich cotton 
mantles, and wearing large plumes on their heads. 
These marched two by two, barefooted, with their 
eyes cast down to the ground, afraid to look up in 
the presence of the King. The Spaniards were 


amazed at the scene ; Cacamatzin's appearance 
was forgotten in the splendor of this. The litter 
was covered with plates of gold, and surmounted 
by a splendid canopy of green feathers, beautifully 
ornamented with precious stones and golden 
fringes, while Montezuma himself was dressed 
most magnificently. He wore upon his head a 
crown of gold ; upon his legs were gold buskins 
filled with precious stones ; while, thrown loosely 
over his shoulders, hung a mantle bespangled with 
gold and gems. *As he came near the Spanish 
chief, he was lifted from his litter, and borne upon 
the arms of the lords of Tezcuco and Iztapalapan, 
while the lords of Tacuba and Cojohuacan spread 
cotton mantles upon the ground, that the great 
King might not touch the earth with his feet. 
Cortes now dismounted his horse, and came for- 
ward with great respect, " addressing the King 
with deep reverence, after the fashion of Europe." 
Montezuma, following the fashion of his country, 
returned his compliment by touching the ground 
and then kissing it. Cortes then came near, and 
threw around his neck a thin collar of gold, strung 
with glass beads of different colors. This greatly 
pleased the King. Cortes would then have em- 
braced him, but the nobles of Montezuma held 
him back. 

This meeting raised the Spaniards greatly in 
the esteem of the Mexicans. Thousands had 


assembled to see it : the whole causeway was cov- 
ered with the crowd, while the tops of houses and 
windows were filled with the multitude. Never 
before had they seen their great Emperor Monte- 
zuma do reverence to any man ; for the first time 
in their lives, they saw him leave his palace, to 
greet with kindness a band of stranoers. Natu- 
rally enough, they now thought the Spaniards were 
Teules, or deities indeed ! 

The feelings of the Spaniards were likewise 
strange. It was now the eighth day of November 
(seven months since their landing in the country), 
and they had at length reached the rich and beau- 
tiful city of Mexico. There it was, with its lofty 
domes and turrets, its splendid houses, and great 
masses of people. They felt already that they 
were rich. But with all this, they could not help 
thinking of other things. They were a band of 
four hundred and fifty men only, far away from 
home, in the heart of an unknown and populous 
country ; they might enter that rich city only to be 
borne down by the multitudes ; perhaps treachery 
might destroy them ; the bridges of the causeways 
might be lifted, and all chance of escape be for 
ever cut off. Joy and anxiety filled their hearts. 

They marched into the city more than a mile, 
before they came to the place which Montezu- 
ma had ordered to be made ready for their re- 
ception. This was the old palace of King Axa- 


jacatl, the father of Montezuma. Montezuma now 
took Cortes by the hand, and leading him to a 
large hall covered with tapestry and embroidered 
with gold and gems, said to him, " Malitzin, you 
and your companions are now in your own house i 
refresh and rest yourselves until my return." He,. 
with all the Mexicans, then left him. 

Cortes found his quarters very comfortable : 
there was ample room for all his men, as well as 
his Indian allies. Montezuma had no sooner left, 
than he began to examine them with great care, to 
see that all was safe. He next ordered the artil- 
lery to fire their guns, by way of frightening the 
Mexicans, and then commenced putting his quar- 
ters in a state of defence. Guns were fixed in 
front of the gate, sentinels were posted round, and 
his men were commanded to act with the same 
prudence as though they were facing the camp of 
an enemy. 

In a little time, Montezuma returned in the same 
splendid style as when he met Cortes on the cause- 
way. He had brought with him rich presents 
for the Spanish general, and remained some time 
with him. It is said that he now told Cortes freely 
of his fears as regards the Spaniards ; stating 
that it was not a great while since his ancestors 
came from the North, to rule the country only un- 
til Quetzalcoatl, the great god and lawful king, 
should return, and that these Spaniards (he be- 


lieved) were his subjects. Cortes very artfully 
encouraged this belief in him, because he knew it 
would help his designs. At all events, he received 
the presents very kindly from Montezuma, and 
then talked to him of the greatness of his master 
Don Carlos. He was the greatest monarch in the 
world, and had sent him to make a treaty of friend- 
ship with the great Emperor of Mexico. He 
wished to alter certain laws and customs in his 
kingdom, and to offer him a religion far better 
than the bloody religion of Mexico. After the 
talk, they parted seemingly good friends on both 

The next day, Cortes, together with Alvarado, 
Sandoval, Velasquez de Leon, and Ordaz, paid a 
visit to Montezuma. They were received kindly, 
and the three following days were appointed by the 
Emperor for them to look at his capital. Their 
first visit in the morning was to the great square 
or market-place, Tlateloco. On one side, numbers 
of slaves were exposed for sale ; on another, were 
vegetables, fruits, &c. ; here were meats and poul- 
try, and there were merchants selling all manner 
of furniture. The whole place was crowded with 
buyers and sellers, while perfect order was kept 
throughout. Three judges sat at one end of the 
square, while a number of officers moved through 
the crowd, to prevent riot or confusion. There 
were other small market-places scattered through- 


out the city, containing fountains, fish-ponds, and 
beautiful gardens ; but this was the principal place 
for buying and selling in Mexico. From this 
place they went to the great temple of Mexico, 
passing through several large courts enclosed by 
heavy double walls, and paved with white cut 
stones. It seems that Montezuma, when he gave 
them permission to visit the city, had been afraid 
that the Spaniards might offer some violence to his 
gods in the temple, and consequently had gone 
there with many of his nobles. Cortes now met 
him. There were one hundred and fourteen steps 
to the temple — and Montezuma at once ordered 
six priests to lift Cortes up ; but the Spaniard pre- 
ferred walking up himself. When he reached the 
top of the platform, there were several large stones 
or altars for sacrificing, and at a little distance 
stood a horrid figure of a dragon, besmeared with 
blood. Montezuma came forward, and asked 
Cortes to look down upon his city now. From 
this high spot he could see everything : the whole 
city and surrounding country lay spread out before 
him. It was impossible to count the number of 
boats passing all the time between Mexico and the 
towns on the shore of the lake : and the crowds 
below in the streets of the city surprised Cortes 
more than ever. He now desired that he might 
see the principal gods of the temple, and after talk- 
ing with his priests, Montezuma consented. The 


Spaniards were now carried into a large hall, the 
walls of which were smeared with blood, and the 
roof curiously carved and ornamented. Here they 
saw two altars, richly dressed, and behind them 
the figures of two monstrous men. The face of 
one of these images expressed terrible passion and 
rage ; his body was ornamented with precious 
stones, while an immense golden serpent was 
coiled around him. On his neck there w r as a col- 
lar, covered with heads and hearts wrought in gold. 
In his right hand he held a bow, in his left a bun- 
dle of arrows. Before him was a large fire, in 
which Cortes saw at the moment three humaa 
hearts burning. This was Huitzilopochtli, the god 
of war. By the side of the god, there was stand- 
ing a little image, bearing a beautifully ornamented 
lance and shield : this was the page of the god. 
The other large figure had a face like a bear, with 
great shining eyes. In the fire before him there 
were five hearts. This was Tezcatlipoca, the god 
of providence, and brother of Huitzilopochtli. Next, 
on the top of the temple, he was shown the great 
religious drum. This was an immense drum, cov- 
ered with the skin of a serpent. When this drum 
was struck, the doleful sound, it is said, could be 
heard for two leagues. Then they showed him 
the large knives for sacrifices, reeking with fresh 
blood, together with the horns and trumpets of the 
temple. Cortes now turned away in disgust, and 


demanded of Montezuma why he worshipped such 
monstrous idols, and allowed his people to be 
butchered before them. The King was very 
angry : he declared that Cortes should never have 
entered the temple, had he supposed that he would 
thus insult the gods. In a rage, he cried out — 
" Go, go hence, while I remain to appease the 
wrath of the gods, whom you have justly provoked 
by your blasphemous words !" 

Cortes, with his companions, now passed out to 
a tower that was near by. At the entrance, which 
was always open, there were many idols, resem- 
bling serpents and other loathsome beasts. Upon 
entering, the Spaniards found in one part of the 
building piles of wood near a large reservoir of 
water, together with pots of water ready to boil 
the flesh of victims who were sacrificed, as food 
for the priests. In another part, were the tombs 
of the Mexican nobles ; in another, were seen im- 
mense piles of human bones, curiously but regu- 
larly laid up. As in the temple, so in this tower 
priests were moving about in their long black man- 
tles, with their ears cut and torn, and their long 
hair clotted with blood. 

When Cortes again returned to his quarters, the 
Tlascalans came around him, talking earnestly of 
what they had often talked before — the treachery 
of Montezuma. They declared that he and his 
people were all crafty and treacherous : they knew 


them well ; that the kind reception given to the 
Spaniards was only intended to deceive them ; and 
that they believed they had been allowed to enter 
the city only that the bridges of the causeways 
might be lifted, all chance of escape cut off, and 
the whole of them be thus massacred. Moreover, 
that the Emperor was a fickle and uncertain man. 
Even if he was their friend now, he was likely, in 
some moment of passion, without any cause, to be- 
come their bitterest enemy. This increased the 
alarm which Cortes already felt about the same 
thing, for it was no news to him that Montezuma 
was treacherous. His own soldiers were ignorant 
of the fact, but Cortes perfectly understood it. 
Whatever Montezuma might say as to his inno- 
cence in the affair at Cholula, Cortes knew that 
he had made an effort to destroy his colony at 
Villa Rica. This he heard at Cholula, but care- 
fully kept it from his men, fearful of discouraging 

It seems that after Cortes left that settlement, 
Montezuma sent to Quauhpopoca (the lord of Nauh- 
tlan, a city on the coast) his secret orders to sub- 
due the Totonacas, and punish them for their 
friendship to the Spaniards. The chief immedi- 
ately attacked all their settlements. The poor 
Totonacas applied to the Spaniards at Villa Rica 
to help them. Juan de Escalante, who had charge 

* This may help to explain the horrid massacre of Cholula. 


at the post, instantly sent his orders to Quauhpo- 
poca to cease troubling these Indians. Upon this, 
Quauhpopoca sent back for answer, that " if the 
Spaniards were disposed to take up the cause of 
the Totonacas, he was ready to meet them in the 
plains of Nauhtlan." Juan de Escalante now went 
out to meet him with fifty Spaniards, two thousand 
Totonacas, two cannons, and two horses. At the 
first attack of the Mexicans, the Totonacas fled. 
In spite of numbers, Escalante and his little band 
continued the fight : with their cannons, forced 
the Mexicans from the field, pursuing them and 
cutting many to pieces as far as the city of Nauh- 
tlan. The victory was theirs, but they paid for it 
dearly : seven Spaniards and one horse were killed, 
and the brave Escalante, who was severely wound- 
ed, died three days afterward. One Spanish pris- 
oner was taken, badly wounded. Fortunately, he 
died of his wounds, and thereby escaped being 
sacrificed. Quauhpopoca caused his head to be cut 
off, and after carrying it in triumph through many 
cities, to show the people that the Spaniards might 
be killed as well as others, at last sent it as a 
present to Montezuma. 

Cortes had felt a deep sorrow for the death of 
Escalante ; and the recollection of the cause of it, 
•together with the suspicions of the Tlascalans, in- 
duced him now to seek some of his Indians whom 
he supposed were not prejudiced, and to inquire 


of them if they had seen anything like treachery 
on the part of the Mexicans. These thought that 
the common people showed no signs of it, but they 
were doubtful about others. Some of the nobles 
had been overheard saying that it would be an 
easy thing to break down the bridges on the cause- 
ways. It was likewise reported that Montezuma 
had' seen the head of a Spaniard that had been 
sent to him by one of his generals, and then or- 
dered it to be secretly taken away, that it might 
not be known to Cortes. This was, no doubt, the 
head of the poor Spaniard sent by Quauhpopoca. 

Cortes was now greatly alarmed ; he felt assured 
that treachery was at work. With a heart full of 
anxiety, he went to his quarters, where he spent 
the whole night walking to and fro over the floor. 
A thousand plans floated through his mind : none 
pleased him ; yet it was necessary to act promptly 
and decidedly. At last a thought crossed him, the 
very boldness of which made even Cortes shudder. 
His plan was formed. He would seize Montezu- 
ma himself, and make him a prisoner. This would 
secure his safety ; the Mexicans would hardly at- 
tempt any act of violence when the life of their 
King was in his hands. He and his brave com- 
panions might perish in the attempt, but it were 
better to die in it than to be cut to pieces retreat- 
ing, or be massacred in the streets of Mexico. 
The next morning, by his command, all his officers 


were assembled. Cortes now told them of the 
danger which threatened them. He declared that 
Montezuma was treacherous-; the affair at Villa 
Rica, and consequent death of Escalante, plainly 
showed it ; that even now his treachery was at 
work ; the Tlascalans had suspected it, but it was 
now proved ; his nobles had been overheard, se- 
cretly talking of breaking down the bridges. For 
his part, he was resolved upon what he would do. 
The danger was great, the remedy hazardous ; but 
he would die or accomplish it. He would seize 
Montezuma, and bring him a prisoner to his quar- 
ters. The officers were startled by this bold de- 
claration. Some cried out that it was impossible : 
if undertaken, it would prove the sure destruction 
of all the Spaniards ; others thought it best to re- 
treat back to Villa Rica as fast as they could ; but 
Velasquez de Leon and Sandoval agreed with 
their leader, saying that it could and must be done. 
The matter was talked over a long time, until at 
last they all agreed that the plan of Cortes should 
be executed at all hazards. 

Cortes now proceeded with great prudence. It 
would not do to march with his soldiers in a body 
to the palace of the King : this would at once 
rouse the Mexicans. He chose, therefore, Alva- 
rado, Sandoval, Velasquez de Leon, Lugo, and 
Davila, five of his best tried officers, together with 
five of his bravest soldiers, to accompany him.. 


Twenty-five picked men were to follow on at in- 
tervals, strolling along as though they were brought 
to the palace by accident. Christoval dc Olid and 
Diego de Ordaz were placed in command of all the 
soldiers left behind, with orders to be ready to 
rush out at the first alarm. 

He now marched to the palace. Without sus- 
picion, he was admitted, and received kindly by 
the King. In a little time, Cortes began, in a 
very severe way, to upbraid him about the conduct 
of Quauhpopoca. It was by his advice (he said) 
that his people at Villa Rica had been disturbed. 
He believed now that he was also guilty of con- 
triving the plot of Cholula, and was sorry to find 
so great a monarch acting so meanly. He had 
not spoken of this before, from motives of prudence, 
but now that he had discovered another plot pre- 
paring in Mexico, he came to assure him that he 
should protect his men at all hazards. When Dona 
Marina and Aguilar interpreted the language of the 
general, Montezuma changed color, and was for 
some time speechless. At length he spoke, sol- 
emnly declaring that he was innocent. He had 
given no orders to Quauhpopoca to trouble the 
Spaniards. Then taking from his wrist the signet 
of Huitzilopochtli, he gave it to some of his officers, 
with a positive command to seize Quauhpopoca and 
bring him to Mexico. Ccrtes now expressed him- 
jself well pleased ; in his own mind (he said) he was 


satisfied of his innocence. But the Spaniards 
were dissatisfied and alarmed, and ready to rise. 
One thing alone he believed could pacify them, 
and make them feel perfectly safe : that was, for 
Montezuma to leave his palace, and take up his 
abode in the Spanish quarters. Montezuma was 
now enraged ; he could scarcely speak. He cried 
out, that he would never thus humble himself ; that 
the Kings of Mexico were not used to surrender- 
ing themselves prisoners without a struggle ; and 
if he were base enough to do so, his people would 
rise in a mass. Cortes, in reply, expressed his 
surprise that the King should think himself a pris- 
oner, for removing to the Spanish quarters ; that it 
Was only returning to the palace of his old father 
Axajacatl, and that the Mexicans could neither be 
alarmed nor surprised at it. But no persuasion 
could move him ; he was firmly resolved not to go. 
Velasquez de Leon, seeing his resolution, now 
cried out very angrily, " Why should we waste 
more time in words ? He must yield himself our 
prisoner, or we will forthwith stab him to the heart! 
Let us secure our lives, or perish at once." His 
fierce and threatening manner startled Montezuma. 
He turned to Dona Marina, and asked what that 
fierce Spaniard meant. She at once answered, 
" Prince, I am your subject, and am anxious for 
your safety ; but, as the friend of these strangers, 
I know their characters. Yield to their request,. 


and they will treat you with every kindness ; re- 
fuse it, and they will not hesitate to take your life." 
Montezuma was now completely subdued, and 
readily consented to go. " Let us, then, depart to 
your quarters," he said ; " the gods have decreed it 
so, and I trust myself to your honor." Cortes now 
caused him to call some of his lords, and inform 
them that it was his choice and pleasure to make 
his home in the Spanish quarters. He was then 
placed upon his splendid litter, and carried from 
his palace. The Mexicans, hearing what was 
done, were greatly roused : they thought the Span- 
iards were stealing away their King, and made 
awful threats against them. But when they saw 
the litter passing through the streets, surrounded 
by the officers of the Emperor, and Montezuma 
waved his hand to them in token of command, 
they were at once satisfied and quiet. 




N a little time, Montezuma 
became quite satisfied in the 
Spanish quarters. He was 
treated as the King of Mexi- 
co, and his government went 
on as usual. His chiefs were 
allowed to visit him, and his 
nobles served up for him his 
splendid feasts as before in his own 
palace. It is said, that after feast- 
ing, he would frequently send what 
was left as a present to the Span- 
ish soldiers. They shared his 
kindness in another way. He be- 
came very fond of Cortes and Alvarado,, 
and amused himself by playing with 
them a game called bodoque, and all his winnings 
at the game were given to the soldiers. Naturally 
enough, this kindness, together with the commands 
of Cortes, induced the men to treat him with great 
respect. Cortes was very strict on this point ; he- 
had one of his men, on one occasion, severely- 
whipped, for using rude words toward the mon- 


arch. Montezuma was also allowed to visit the 
temple, and go out upon the chase sometimes ; but 
on these occasions he was always attended by a 
body of Spaniards, to prevent his being rescued. 
Though a prisoner, he was still the King, and felt 

This happiness did not last long, however. At 
the end of a fortnight, Quauhpopoca and some of 
his companions in the attack on Escalante were 
brought prisoners to Mexico. Though a prisoner, 
Quauhpopoca was borne upon a splendid litter like 
a conquering hero. He at once sought Montezu- 
ma, and presented himself before him as one who 
had faithfully obeyed his orders. To his surprise 
and confusion, the King treated him coldly, and 
ordered him to be delivered immediately to Cortes. 
He was now put to the torture, and confessed that 
all he had done was by command of his King. A 
court, made up of Spaniards, then tried him, and 
condemned him to be burnt alive. Cortes went 
now to Montezuma, and told him of the confession 
of Quauhpopoca, and the punishment he was to 
suffer ; adding, very sternly, that he too would be 
put to death but for his late acts of kindness : his 
life would be spared, but that he was not to escape 
all punishment for his treachery. With that, he 
ordered a Spaniard, who had brought a pair of iron 
fetters along, to fasten them upon the legs of Mon- 
tezuma. It was instantly done, and Cortes left 


iiim, to punish Quauhpopoca. The poor King of 
Mexico was confounded and speechless. His no- 
bles who attended him clung to his fetters, and 
wept bitterly. 

Cortes now gathered a large quantity of bows, 
arrows, and darts, from the Mexican armory, and 
caused an immense fire to be made of them directly 
in front of Montezuma's palace. Quauhpopoca and 
three other chiefs (some say fifteen others) soon per- 
ished in the flames. Thousands of Mexicans looked 
calmly upon the scene ; no resistance was made, 
for they thought it was all done by the command 
of the King. This horrible act being ended, Cortes 
again went to Montezuma, spoke kindly to him, 
and with his own hands took off his fetters. To 
carry his kindness further, he now told him that 
he was at liberty, and might return, if he pleased, 
to his own palace. This last was only a pretence 
of kindness, for Cortes knew very well that Mon- 
tezuma dared not go. The people had just seen 
the death of the brave general Quauhpopoca, and 
Montezuma knew that he would probably suffer 
for the guilt of it. 

Though the Mexicans made no resistance at the 
time, the insolent bearing of the Spaniards, before 
the very palace of their King, had roused the an- 
ger of many. The proud spirit of Cacamatzin, 
the lord of Tezcuco, was greatly excited. He at 
once gathered together a body of the nobles at 


Tezcuco, and they resolved to declare war upon 
the Spaniards. They were quickly busy in making 
their preparations, and the rumor of their intentions 
soon spread. Cortes began to feel alarmed for his 
safety, and Montezuma began to be startled with 
the thought of losing his crown ; for, with the ru- 
mors, came the story that Cacamatzin intended to 
seize the reins of government, thinking that his 
uncle had disgraced both himself and the empire. 
They both sent messengers to Cacamatzin, com- 
manding him to leave off his warlike preparations ; 
but Cacamatzin only sent back this proud answer : 
" That his country was disgraced ; that the Span- 
iards could no longer deceive or frighten him ; 
they must leave Mexico, and return to their own 
country, or take the storm that was gathering.'* 
Cortes now proposed to march out and attack him. 
Montezuma, however, advised him not to do this, 
stating that Tezcuco was a strongly-fortified city, 
the second in the empire, and he would only per- 
ish in the attempt. He sent, therefore, another 
message to his nephew, inviting him to come up to 
the capital and visit him, at which time all diffi- 
culties might be happily settled. Cacamatzin was 
now more indignant than ever : he declared to his 
followers that his uncle was more a friend to the 
strangers than to his own people. He sent for 
answer this time, that he would come to the capi- 
tal, but not to waste words in idle talk : he would 


come to destroy the Spaniards. Finding his 
nephew thus resolute, Montezuma now determin- 
ed to make him a prisoner. He took his signet 
from his arm, and giving it to some of his nobles, 
commanded them secretly to seize his rebel ne- 
phew, and bring him a prisoner to Mexico. His 
order was soon carried out. In a little time, the 
nobles returned, bringing Cacamatzin. Montezu- 
ma rebuked him, and then delivered him to Cortes. 
He was at once thrown into prison, and his brother 
Cuitcuitzcatzin sent out in splendid style to take 
charge of the province of Tezcuco. 

Made bold by his success in this matter, Cortes 
now resolved that Montezuma should declare 
himself subject to the King of Spain. He went 
to him, and told him that it was his desire 
that he should acknowledge the authority of the 
King of Spain over him, and subject his king- 
dom to a yearly tribute in token of dependance. 
The poor captive monarch, in great sorrow, soon 
assented to this. He called all his lords and 
nobles together in a great hall in the Spanish quar- 
ters. With sobs and tears, he reminded them of 
the old tradition that the sons of Quetzalcoatl were 
to come and rule the Mexican empire ; that he held 
it, as they knew, only till that time ; the time was 
now come ; the Spaniards (he believed) were the 
sons of Quetzalcoatl, and he was ready to recog- 
nise the title of the King of Spain over his domin- 


ions. His chiefs and lords heard this declaration 
in silent grief ; yet they gave their consent ; for, 
like the King, they believed the tradition : they 
were afraid to resist. Montezuma informed Cortes 
that on the next day they would all swear alle- 
giance to the Spanish King. Accordingly, on the 
day following, it was done in the presence of all the 
Spanish officers, and even their hearts (it is said) 
were moved when they witnessed the sorrow of 
Montezuma as he took that oath. 

One step led on to another. Cortes next re- 
solved to persuade him that it was right and proper 
that his empire should send a rich present of jew- 
els, gold, and silver, to the King of Spain. It was 
soon done. To this also he assented : he brought 
forward his own treasures liberally, at the same 
time sending commands to all his lords throughout 
the kingdom to bring in their portions. Within 
twenty days, an amount equalling six hundred 
thousand dollars, besides jewels, was collected at 
Mexico. Cortes now proceeded to divide this 
treasure. One fifth part was for the King of 
Spain ; one fifth part for himself ; from the balance 
was to be taken what he, Velasquez, and others, 
had expended in fitting out the expedition ; and 
then the remainder was to be equally divided 
among the men, according to their rank. The 
soldiers were dissatisfied with this division, espe- 
cially the part given to the King of Spain, who 


had never aided them in any way in the enterprise ; 
but Cortes managed to pacify them by giving se- 
cret presents to some, and offering promises and 
prospects to all. 

The Spanish chief had rolled upon a tide of for- 
tune thus far ; but now it began to turn. Matters had 
come to such a pass, that some of the Mexican no- 
bles, forgetting their traditions and their fears, began 
seriously to think of forcing the Spaniards from 
Mexico. Their King was a captive, Quauhpopoca 
murdered, Cacamatzin in prison, their gods insult- 
ed, and the whole country, in fact, under the con- 
trol of strangers. This was more than could be 
borne. They began to hold secret meetings, and 
sometimes to meet Montezuma secretly. Matters 
were freely talked over : the priests, who hated 
the Spaniards, threw in their advice, and all this 
ended in a solemn resolution that the Spaniards 
should leave the city. They were afraid, how- 
ever, to attack them openly, so long as Montezuma 
was in their possession. They were to be got 
off peaceably, if possible, and therefore another 
plan was adopted. Montezuma sent for Cortes, 
and told him that " he had already been in his 
capital six months, and there was no reason in his 
remaining any longer. He wished him, therefore, 
to depart as speedily as possible. His priests, his 
nobles, and his people were all dissatisfied, and 
determined that the Spaniards should no longer re- 


main in the land. Moreover, that it was the will 
of the gods that the strangers who had insulted 
them should be expelled, or sacrificed." This 
was said very sternly by the King, and Cortes, 
who had heard that a conspiracy was at work* 
felt that it must be strong when Montezuma could 
speak to him so boldly. He knew, too, if the 
Mexicans did rise against him, it was death to his 
hopes. He very artfully, therefore, answered the 
King that his demand was very reasonable ; that 
he had himself already thought of leaving Mexico. 
He could not, however, leave immediately ; his 
ships had been destroyed, and it was necessary to 
build new ones. He hoped the Mexicans would 
allow him time to make his preparations. Mon- 
tezuma was greatly pleased. The thought of 
his departure was real joy to him. He embraced 
Cortes, and promised him not only time to make 
his preparations, but that he would assist him in 
making them. He sent out his order that some 
of his men should at once go to the woods to cut 
timber for the Spaniards, and that some of his car- 
penters should set to work in helping them to build 
their ships. Cortes left Montezuma feeling very 
happy himself ; he saw he had deceived the King : 
she had no thought of leaving the country, and was 
hoping, during the time allowed him, that he might 
gain strength in some way to meet any difficulty. 
At the end of a week, however, ships appeared on 


the coast. Montezuma, hearing of this, sent for 
him again, and told him there was no necessity for 
his remaining any longer to build his vessels ; ships- 
were off the coast, and he must start immediately. 
Cortes felt more joy than sorrow. The news 
of the ships delighted him ; he thought instantly 
of Portocarrero and Montejo,the messengers whom 
he had sent to Spain to get the authority of Don 
Carlos. Nine months had passed away since they 
left him ; he had looked for them eagerly before,, 
and supposed they had now arrived with fresh 
troops to help him in his conquest. In this he 
was sadly disappointed. The truth was, that his 
very messengers had betrayed him. Contrary to 
their positive orders, they had stopped at Cuba, on 
their way to Spain. Portocarrero being sick, Mon~ 
tejo had forced the pilot, Alaminos, to touch at 
Havana, under pretence of getting supplies from 
his estate. The ship had no sooner cast anchor, 
than he sent a sailor ashore with letters to Velas- 
quez. The Governor was more enraged than 
ever ; from that moment, he had used all his efforts 
to ruin Cortes. The eighteen ships on the coast 
were under the command of Pamphilo de Narvaez, 
and he had been sent out by him, at the head of 
eight hundred soldiers, with positive orders to seize 
Cortes and his principal officers, and send them 
prisoners to Cuba. It was not long before Cortes, 
understood the whole. 


Narvaez had made a landing on the coast of 
Chempoalla, and was soon joined by three Span- 
ash deserters. These told him that Cortes was in 
a forlorn and wretched condition, and might easily 
be taken. Narvaez was made bold by such news. 
He immediately sent off Guevara, a priest, with a 
company, to Sandoval (who was commanding at 
Villa Rica since the death of Escalante)., to de- 
mand that he should surrender that place. San- 
doval refused to do so, and when the priest proved 
insolent, told him that his sacred order alone pro- 
tected him. Upon this, Guevara was very angry: 
the quarrel became high, and Sandoval seized him 
and his companions, and sent them prisoners to 
Mexico. Upon their arrival there, Cortes very 
prudently received them kindly ; he took off their 
fetters, expressed himself sorry for the conduct of 
Sandoval, made them many rich presents, and in 
'this way completely won them over as friends. 
They now talked to him freely of Narvaez and 
the strength of his forces : said that he had de- 
clared to the Indians that Cortes was a traitor and 
tyrant, keeping their King a prisoner, and that he 
was sent out by the King of Spain to set them 
free. They stated, too, that Montezuma was send- 
ing secret messages to him, and that several of the 
Mexican provinces had openly declared in his favor. 

Cortes was now in a very dangerous and trying 
position. It was idle for him to march out and 


meet Narvaez with all his fresh and numerous 
troops ; to release Montezuma, and attempt to re- 
treat from Mexico, would prove sure destruction ; 
to remain where he was, in an enemy's city, and 
wait for Narvaez to attack him, would prove equally 
unsafe. His courage, however, did not forsake 
him. He was resolved upon one thing — that he 
would never leave as a prisoner the country that 
he had entered as a conqueror, and never allow 
another to reap the glory which he thought he had 
earned. Narvaez was, he supposed, his most dan- 
gerous enemy, and he turned his thoughts towards 
him. He made up his mind that before long he 
must come to a battle with him, but, in the mean 
time, he would try to win him as a friend : if he 
failed in that, he would try to break up his strength 
by bringing over some of his officers. He selected, 
as the messenger whom he would send to him, 
Father Olmedo, whose prudence he had tried be- 
fore this. He was to propose terms of friendship ; 
if he failed in carrying this point, he was to use 
his arts in making friends in his army. Accord- 
ingly, Olmedo was sent off with letters to Nar- 
vaez and some of his officers — among the rest, 
Andres de Duero, the old friend of Cortes, who 
was fortunately one of them — together with many 
rich presents for them from Cortes. 

Narvaez received him with great scorn. He de- 
clared that he would soon cut off the head of the 


traitor Cortes, and put all his followers to death. 
It was in vain that Father Olmedo reasoned with 
him, telling him that the Spaniards were brothers ; 
that the glory of their common country required 
that they should turn their forces against the Mexi- 
cans, and that Cortes was ready to do so. Nar- 
vaez would hear no terms of peace whatever. 
Finding that he failed in this point, Olmedo re- 
membered the other. He mingled with the men, 
talked with them freely, delivered the rich presents 
of Cortes, and soon won over some of the officers. 
Fortunately, just at this time, Guevara and his com- 
panions returned. They talked loudly of the gen- 
erosity of Cortes, and the glory that was before 
the Spaniards, if they would only join forces ; de- 
claring that no better leader could be found than 
Cortes, and that it was a shame to take the com- 
mand from him after all his perils. Narvaez, only 
the more enraged at all this, ordered Guevara never 
again to speak to him of terms of friendship be- 
tween him and Cortes, and immediately issued his 
proclamation, declaring Cortes and all his follow- 
ers rebels to Don Carlos, and traitors to their 

Upon Olmedo's return, Cortes felt at once that 
he was to have a struggle with Narvaez, and that 
the sooner it was met the better. Leaving one 
hundred and fifty of his men, therefore, at Mexico, 
under the command of Alvarado, with particular 


instructions to guard Montezuma closely, he started 
with the remainder of his forces to meet him. 
What he most feared was the cavalry of Narvaez. 
To enable his soldiers to meet these, he sent To- 
billa to Chinantla to get from the Cacique three 
hundred of the long spears used by his warriors 
in battle. He pushed on very rapidly towards 
Chempoalla, having no baggage or artillery to de- 
lay him. At Tapanacuetla (a village thirty miles 
from that place), he was joined by Sandoval and 
his men from Vera Cruz. His whole force now 
amounted only to two hundred and fifty men ; yet 
they were brave men, ready to face any danger. 
Determined, if possible, not to shed the blood of 
his countrymen, Cortes once more sent Father 01- 
medo to bring Narvaez to terms of peace. Again 
he was received with scorn, and again set himself 
to the work of intriguing with the men. Another 
messenger was now sent ; this was Velasquez de 
Leon. It seems that Narvaez had counted surely 
upon his friendship, remembering that he was a 
kinsman to Velasquez, and had written him a let- 
ter, urging him to join him. This Velasquez de 
Leon had very proudly and indignantly refused to 
do. Cortes was greatly delighted with this proof 
of his friendship ; and thinking it would help his 
cause, now sent De Leon also a messenger to 
Narvaez. He was received with great attention. 
Narvaez made him brilliant offers : he should be 


second in command, and earn great glory, if h@ 
would only abandon Cortes. Velasquez de Leon 
again refused, declaring that he would die, sooner 
than desert such a noble commander as Cortes ; 
that he had already earned great glory for his 
country ; and as he had begun the conquest, he 
was the best man to finish it. Narvaez and some 
of his officers were now very angry, and spoke 
abusively of Cortes and his followers. This was 
more than De Leon could brook ; he was enraged 
at hearing his brave companions thus spoken of, 
and laid his hand upon his weapon. Fortunately, 
some of the more prudent Spaniards came forward 
at this moment, and urged him and Father Olmeda 
to leave the camp. They left, but many friends 
were left behind them. The soldiers of Narvaez 
had begun to look upon their leader as obstinate 
and stubborn. The messengers had scarcely gone, 
when, in a rage, he offered a reward of two thou- 
sand crowns for the heads of Cortes and Sandoval. 
Hearing, too, that Cortes had been bold enough to 
come within a league of Chempoalla, he at once 
set his army in motion to give him a battle. 

Fortunately for Cortes, one of Narvaez' men de- 
serted his camp, and informed him of what was 
done. Narvaez had drawn up his whole army in 
a large plain near Chempoalla, and determined 
there to wait for him. Cortes was not so imprudent 
as to meet him there with his little handful of 


men. He kept quiet, therefore, on the other side 
of the river Canoas, which runs near Chempoalla, 
determined to wait for some better opportunity. A 
heavy fall of rain now set in, and the soldiers of 
Narvaez, unaccustomed to hardships, began to 
murmur and complain. It was idle, they said, to 
remain in such a storm ; Cortes and his few follow- 
ers would not dare to approach them at such a time. 
Some of the officers joined with them, and per- 
suaded Narvaez to take them back to their quar- 
ters in Chempoalla. Having carried them back 
he posted two sentinels at the ford of the river to 
watch the enemy, and sent a number of horsemen 
to keep a lookout upon the road leading to the 
town, and to move around his quarters. In the 
mean time, Cortes and his little army stood 
drenched in the rain without a murmur ; every 
man seemed happy and contented. Naturally sup- 
posing that Narvaez and his men would be weary 
and unsuspicious of his approach after such a day, 
he determined to attack them at midnight, while 
they were all in their quarters. Accordingly, he 
called his little band around him, told them of his 
design, and made a stirring speech to them. He 
spoke of the sufferings and dangers they had borne, 
the victories they had won, and the glorious pros- 
pects before them ; and now he said they had been 
declared rebels and traitors by their unnatural 
countryman Narvaez. As he went on, he was in- 


terruptcd by the shouts of the soldiers ; and when 
he finished, they all declared that they would fol- 
low such a leader for ever. Some went so far (it 
is said) as to swear they would kill Cortes if 
he tried again to make peace with Narvaez. He 
thanked them for their love, and warmly praised 
their courage. His little army was now divided 
into three parties. The command of the first was 
given to Sandoval. This had the most difficult 
duty to perform : it was to seize the artillery of the 
enemy, and Cortes placed in it, therefore, some of 
his picked men. The second division was in- 
trusted to Christoval de Olid : he was to storm the 
town, and take possession of Narvaez. Cortes 
himself led the third party : this was to act as a 
body of reserve, and rush to the support of either 
party that required it. The rain had swollen the 
river so much, that it was dangerous to pass it ; 
yet, with the waters rising to their breasts, they 
all crossed the ford. Every man being armed 
with his sword, dagger, and spear, they now moved 
on silently and in regular order. The guard in 
advance fortunately caught one of the sentinels, 
but the other fled to the city and gave the alarm. 
This caused Cortes to move on more rapidly. But 
Narvaez would not believe the sentinel ; he thought 
it impossible that Cortes should be moving on such 
a night, and rebuked him as a coward who had 
been frightened. No horsemen were seen to in- 


ferrupt him on the road (they were probably tired, 
and had taken shelter from the rain), and thus 
Cortes reached at midnight, unobserved, the prin- 
cipal temple of Chempoalla, where Narvaez held 
his quarters. A long row of artillery guarded 
the entrance to the temple, but no time was to be 
lost. Cortes gave the signal for attack. Sando- 
val and his brave followers rushed forward so 
fiercely, that the enemy only fired three guns, 
when they were forced to take to their other wea- 
pons. He now drove them back from their guns, 
and, amid a shower of arrows and balls, began to 
press his way up the steps of the temple. Num- 
bers poured out and crowded the steps ; still San- 
doval kept the guns, and maintained his ground at 
great hazard, in spite of all opposition. Narvaez 
was not idle ; he was up, and rallying his men. 
Christoval de Olid and Cortes now rushed to the 
assistance of Sandoval, bearing down everything 
before them. Sandoval reached the temple-door, 
and tried to burst it open, but failed. In the mean 
time, one of the soldiers had fired the tower : it 
was in a blaze ; multitudes were rushing from it. 
Sanchez Farzan, one of the soldiers, now struck 
Narvaez with his spear. He instantly fell, was 
seized, dragged down the steps, and fastened with 
fetters. The news was soon spread that Narvaez 
was dead : shouts of victory rang through the air ; 
his followers were confounded. His soldiers in 


the two smaller towers were in the greatest confu- 
sion. In their fright and consternation, they even 
took the fire-flies, in the darkness, to be soldiers' 
matches ; all was despair. In spite of the entrea- 
ties of Diego Velasquez and Salvatierra, they laid 
down their arms and surrendered. The battle was 
ended ; the prisoners were all put under the charge 
of Sandoval, who had^them carried to a safe place, 
under a guard of picked soldiers. 

The next morning found Cortes a conqueror, 
seated on a chair, surrounded by all his brave 
officers. The conquered officers passed before 
him, and kissed his hand. Right glad were they 
to make a friend of him now. He now sent Lugo 
to the fleet to bring off the pilots and sailors, and 
then to dismantle the ships, to prevent any one 
from returning to Cuba. Next he ordered all the 
prisoners to be set free, except Narvaez and Sal- 
vatierra, and then offered to send them all back to 
Cuba, or take them as his soldiers. The men had 
seen his bravery : they now saw his generosity ; 
his followers, too, seemed to have plenty of ^old 
and trinkets ; and, almost to a man, they consented 
to join him. They felt that glory was before 
them, and that Cortes was the commander to lead 
them on. He was now fairly at the head of an 
army, together with one hundred horses, plenty of 
ammunition, and abundance of military stores. 




CARCEJjY was the victory 
won, when a courier arrived 
in hot haste from Alvarado. 
The Mexicans had risen in 
the capital ; two brigantines, 
which Cortes had built to com- 
mand the lake, were destroyed, 
— seven Spaniards had been 
killed, — and Alvarado was now 
closely besieged in his quarters. 
Cortes was greatly startled by these 
sad tidings. He knew that the force 
of Alvarado, though brave, was 
small, and instantly commenced prepa- 
rations for his departure. In the midst 
of these, two other messengers arrived, 
heaping curses upon Alvarado, declaring that his 
rashness and folly alone had brought about this 

It seems that Cortes had scarcely left Mexico, 
when the inhabitants of that city began to think 
of attacking his countrymen. They knew that he 


was the great leader of trie Spaniards, and thought 
that during his absence they might rescue Monte- 
zuma, and revenge themselves thoroughly. Many 
secret meetings had been held by them for the 
purpose of completing their plans, 'and all was 
nearly ripe for action, when the Spaniards discov- 
ered the plot. They were all greatly enraged : 
none more so than. their leader Alvarado. Still 
they behaved prudently ; and, but for the hasty 
violence of Alvarado, all might for some time 
have been kept quiet. The principal festival of 
the Mexicans (that of Huitzilopochtli, the god of 
war) came on just at this time. At this festival, 
which was always celebrated with great magnifi- 
cence, it was customary for the King, the nobles, 
the priests, and the people, to join in certain dances. 
The nobles, having requested Alvarado to allow 
Montezuma to join them, and been refused, pre- 
pared now to keep the festival without him. The 
Mexicans had all assembled in the large court of 
the great temple, the dancing and singing had com- 
menced, when Alvarado (thinking this a fit occa- 
sion for striking terror in the hearts of the con- 
spirators) ordered his soldiers out, and rushed 
furiously upon them. So sudden was the attack, 
that numbers of the Indians were at once massa- 
cred. In a little time, however, they rallied, and 
prepared for a desperate revenge. Nothing could 
now restrain them ; not even the thought of what 


might befall Montezuma could allay their fury. 
They rushed upon the Spanish quarters, battering 
the walls, and destroying most of their ammuni- 
tion. Alvarado and his little force made a gallant 
resistance, and were still making it, but were now 
fairly besieged, and had before them every pros- 
pect of perishing, either by war or famine. 

Cortes hurried his preparations, and all was 
soon ready. He made an oration to the fol- 
lowers of Narvaez, to inspire them with courage, 
and then intrusting Narvaez and Salvatierra to the 
keeping of Rodrigo Ranzel, whom he appointed 
his lieutenant at Villa Rica, set out on his rapid 
march for Mexico. At Tlascala he was joined by 
two thousand warriors, and he now felt strong 
enough to curb the fury of the Mexicans. He 
passed on rapidly to Tezcuco ; but scarcely had 
he entered the Mexican territories, when he saw 
at once many signs of Mexican feeling. No wel- 
come met him as usual in any of the towns through 
which he passed : they all seemed deserted ; nor 
was any provision made anywhere for the comfort 
of himself or his army. He was unmolested, how- 
ever, in his march, and at length, on the 24th of 
June, 1520, again entered Mexico. Here, again, 
no one came forward to meet him : a gloomy si- 
lence seemed to reign through the city. Cortes 
felt assured now that difficulties were before him ;. 
yet, strange to tell, his first act was one of impru- 


dence. When at length he reached Montezuma, 
and the King would have complimented him on 
his victory over Narvaez, he turned away from him 
with scorn. Perhaps he felt that he had force 
enough now to carry his point at all hazards, or 
possibly he thought that Montezuma was treacher- 
ous ; that he was aiding the fury of his people. 
Alvarado was instantly summoned before him, to 
give an account of all that had happened. He 
declared that a priest and two nobles had informed 
him that the Mexicans had entered into a plot to 
destroy the Spaniards ; moreover, that news had 
reached the capital that Cortes and his army had 
been vanquished by Narvaez ; that this had em- 
boldened them : they were ripe for action ; to pro- 
tect himself, he could make no delay, and there- 
fore had fallen upon them at the time of the festi- 
val. It is said that Cortes was dissatisfied with 
this explanation. Still, this was no time for find- 
ing fault : Alvarado and his companions were in 
trouble, and their only hope of relief was through 
him. He was provoked at the boldness of the 
Mexicans, and especially so when he found they 
furnished no supplies for his army. He bore him- 
self very haughtily toward the nobles wherever he 
met them, and at length sent a very stern message 
to Montezuma, commanding him immediately to 
supply his troops with provisions. This message 
only roused the Mexicans the more ; and from that 


moment they commenced a war of indomitable 
hatred against all Spaniards. 

Ere long, a Spanish soldier came rushing into 
the quarters, and fell down, sinking with the loss 
of blood. This poor fellow had been sent by- 
Cortes, to bring to Mexico the daughter of Mon- 
tezuma and other ladies left at Tacuba, under the 
care of the Cacique. The enraged Mexicans had 
attacked him on the causeway, and he had escaped 
only by the most desperate exertions. He declared 
that the whole country was in arms, and that mul- 
titudes from all quarters were moving toward 
Mexico. Cortes immediately sent out Diego de 
Ordaz, with four hundred men, to reconnoitre. 
These Spaniards had scarcely moved into the 
streets, when they were attacked with showers of 
arrows, while the air was filled with .the loud 
curses and threats of the Mexicans. " Every 
man of them should be sacrificed to the gods : not 
one Spaniard should escape ; and every Tlascalan 
should share the same fate." The streets were 
filled with the phrensied multitude, while, from the 
tops of the houses and temples, darts, stones, and ar- 
rows, were poured upon the Spaniards. Ordaz found 
that he could neither move forward nor readily re- 
treat ; he was completely hemmed in by the throng-. 
His courage, however, did not forsake him ; with 
a desperate energy, he fought his way back to the 
Spanish quarters, twenty-three of his men having 


%een killed, and a large number wounded. ' This 
success only emboldened the Mexicans. The 
next day they came in vast numbers to attack the 
Spanish quarters. A wild madness seemed to 
possess them. The artillery was at once brought 
to bear upon them, and, though masses were swept 
down in the streets at every volley, the places of 
the dead were instantly supplied by others ; there 
seemed no end to their numbers. Twice they came 
near forcing an entrance into the quarters. Dis- 
appointed in this, they at length set fire to them, 
and the Spaniards were enabled to stop the flames 
only by throwing down one of the walls to extin- 
guish them. 

Another difficulty now presented itself, in the 
disaffection of the soldiers of Narvaez. They were 
startled by the threats and fury of the Mexicans ; 
they had followed Cortes, not expecting such dis- 
asters, and began now to murmur loudly. It was 
no time to listen to their complaints. To inspire 
them with confidence, Cortes resolved upon a bold 
effort. With a handful of men, he made in person a 
desperate sally upon the enemy ; but, in spite of 
his bravery, was forced to retreat, leaving ten of 
his men dead in the streets, and about fifty wound- 
ed. His energies, however, increased with his 
difficulties. He resolved upon another attack. 
Perceiving that his men suffered most from the 
darts and arrows thrown from the roofs of the 


houses, he caused them to make four machines, 
called mantas. These machines were made of 
strong timbers, covered with a roof, and moved on 
wheels. Each one could carry about thirty sol- 
diers. Thus prepared, he again sallied out at the 
head of most of the Spaniards and two thousand 
Tlascalans. The Indians hailed them as usual 
with shouts of fury and defiance, pouring in upon 
them clouds of arrows. Expecting this attack, 
they had prepared to annoy the Spaniards in every 
way. In some places, the streets were blocked up 
to prevent their passage ; in others, the bridges 
that crossed the canals in the city were broken 
down ; and while the Spaniards were stopped from 
time to time by these obstacles, they assailed them 
furiously from the streets, the canals, the roofs 
and windows of the houses. As for the mantas, 
they afforded but little protection, for the inge- 
nuity of the Indians soon destroyed them. From 
the tops of the houses they hurled down im- 
mense stones and broke them to pieces. The 
priests were in the midst, inflaming the people ; 
the nobles, by their example, urged them on, and 
they fought desperately. The battle was waged 
fiercely on both sides through the whole day. 
Worn out at last by the continued attacks carried 
on from the houses, Cortes ordered his men to fire 
the city. Several houses were soon burnt to the 
ground, and he now retreated to the Spanish quar- 


ters as rapidly as possible. It was a sad day to. 
both parties. Multitudes of the Mexicans were 
slaughtered, while forty Spaniards were slain, and 
a large number wounded. Cortes was himself 
badly wounded in the hand in this conflict. 

Cortes now felt that his position was most dan- 
gerous. He could neither conquer nor make terms 
of peace, nor hope for a quiet retreat. To attempt 
a retreat from the capital was all that seemed left to 
him : to remain where he was, was courting almost 
certain death by war or famine ; and yet he could not 
brook the thought of being anything but a conqueror,, 
after all his toils and struggles. Fortunately, at 
this time he had a prospect of relief from Monte- 
zuma. It is said that, from one of the towers, the 
King had looked out upon the conflict in the city.. 
He had marked the fierce spirit of the Spaniards,. 
led on by Cortes, and the desperate resistance of 
the Mexican troops, headed by his brother, the 
lord of Iztapalapan. The sight moved him to 
tears. He felt that his city was in ruins, whoever 
might be conqueror. Troubled with his distress, 
after a sleepless night he sought Cortes, and im- 
plored him to stop the havoc by leaving the city. 
It required but little persuasion to bring Cortes to 
a decision. He promised the King that he would 
go, if he would insure him a peaceable departure,, 
and, for this purpose, demanded that the Mexicans 
should lay down their arms : and Montezuma as 


readily agreed to use his authority to induce them 
to do so.* 

Accordingly, on the next day, when the infuri- 
ated Mexicans again attacked the Spanish quar- 
ters, Montezuma resolved to show himself to them, 
hoping thereby to calm their fury. Their attack 
was now tremendous. It seemed impossible for 
the artillery to drive them back. Some were 
scaling the walls, and some had actually forced 
their way into the quarters, and were fighting hand 
to hand with the Spaniards, when Montezuma, at- 
tired in his regal dress, and attended by some of 
his nobles and a guard of Spanish soldiers, came 
out upon the battlements. The moment he ap- 
peared, all was silence ; some fell reverently 
upon their knees. The King now spoke to 
them, beseeching them to desist, and declaring 
that the Spaniards were ready to leave the city if 
they would only allow them to pass out undisturbed. 
One of the nobles answered from the crowd, that 

* Bernal Diaz declares that there was no such readiness of 
agreement between Cortes and Montezuma. His story is, that 
when Cortes consented to leave the city, desiring, as a condi- 
tion, that the King should use his influence in inducing his 
people to lay down their arms, Montezuma instantly refused — 
bursting into tears, and uttering many reproaches against the 
Spanish commander. Father Olmedo and Christoval de Olid 
then tried to persuade the King, but he answered that his re- 
monstrances would produce no effect upon his people : they 
had chosen another King, and would not allow a single Span- 
iard to leave the city alive. At length, however, after great 
difficulty, he was prevailed on to address the Mexicans. 


the war would soon be over, for they had all sworn 
that no Spaniard should leave the city alive. Mon- 
tezuma again implored them to lay aside their 
arms, and used every argument to persuade them. 
All was in vain. A murmur of discontent spread 
through the throng, and one of the crowd cried out 
that the King was a coward. In a moment more, 
the whole mass cursed and reproached him, and 
then came showers of stones and arrows upon the 
ramparts. Before the Spaniards could shelter him, 
Montezuma fell. A stone had struck him on the 
head, and he was wounded in his arm and leg. The 
Mexicans were now horror-stricken at their own 
deed ; their stormy passions gave way to gloom 
and despair ; they fled from the spot in dismay. 

The Spaniards bore the unfortunate King with- 
in, and Cortes caused his wounds to be care- 
fully dressed, and endeavored to console him. But 
Montezuma refused all comfort. He seemed now 
as one waking from a dream. The haughty and 
fierce spirit of his better days came back, and 
he heaped heavy reproaches upon the Spanish 
chief. He felt that he was a king ; he knew that he 
was now degraded and disgraced, and he longed 
to die. In a phrensy, he tore the bandages from 
his wounds, and refused to take any nourishment 
whatever. Cortes, perceiving his end approach- 
ing, now besought him to embrace the Christian 
religion. Alas ! that Montezuma had so poor a* 


preacher of our blessed religion ! Father Olmedo 
earnestly implored him to receive Christian bap- 
tism, but all to no purpose. Unbending to the last, 
he had but one fixed desire, and that was to die ; 
and at length, after three days of misery, he 
breathed his last, in a raving passion, mourning 
over his fate, cursing the Spaniards, and swearing 
vengeance against his people. Cortes immediately 
sent a messenger to Prince Cuitlahuatzin, the suc- 
cessor to the throne, to inform him of the death of 
Montezuma ; and in a little time the body was car- 
ried out by six nobles, and taken to a place called 
Copalco, amid the loud lamentations of the Mexi- 

He now endeavored to make peace with the 
Mexicans, but all his efforts failed. The Indians 
whom he sent as messengers with his terms re- 
fused to return with any answer ; but a distinct 
answer was soon made known by the conduct of 
the people. The day after the funeral, they re- 
turned to their attack upon the Spanish quarters 
more furiously than ever. The position of Cortes 
was now well nigh desperate. Montezuma was 
dead, and there was nothing to restrain the ven- 
geance of the multitude. All hopes of peace 
had passed away : his only hope was to escape 
from the city. Even this, however, seemed cut 
off by the bold determination of the Indians. 
They had taken possession of a tower on the prin- 


cipal temple, which commanded a full view of the 
Spanish quarters. From this point they kept so 
strict a watch, that it was almost certain death to 
a Spaniard to move out. They knew the advan- 
tage of this post so well, that five hundred of their 
picked warriors were stationed there. Cortes at 
once saw that it was idle to hope to make his re- 
treat so long as they kept that station. It was 
absolutely necessary to dislodge them. Accord- 
ingly, he sent Escobar out with a strong force for 
that purpose. More than one gallant effort was 
made, but at length, after three several failures, 
Escobar was forced to retreat to the quarters. 

Cortes now felt that everything depended upon 
himself. His men were doomed to perish, unless 
something could be done. Though suffering from 
his wound, he determined upon another effort, and 
resolved to take the command himself. At the 
head of his troops, he pressed toward the temple. 
Barriers were placed in his way, stones and arrows 
were showered upon him ; still he pressed on. 
Unfortunately, when he reached the court of the 
temple, he found that the cavalry, upon which he 
principally relied, could not be used ; the horses 
continually slipped, and fell upon the pavement. 
The Indians annoyed them in every way. Togeth- 
er with their arrows and darts, they hurled upon 
them burning beams of wood, which threw them 
into great confusion. Cortes now dismounted, and 


ordering his men to bind his shield to his wounded 
arm, rushed to the attack, calling to them to follow 
him. His example inspired them. The Spaniards 
rushed on with resistless force. Gradually working 
their way up the steps, they at length reached the 
platform, and drove the Mexicans to the upper area 
of the temple. Here the battle raged furiously for 
three hours. The priests were there, calling frantic- 
ally upon the gods, and screaming to the people, and 
these contested every inch of the way with the des- 
perate Spaniards. The carnage was awful. The 
warriors were all killed upon the spot, or destroyed 
themselves by leaping from the tower. The no- 
bles perished to a man. Cortes at last gained the 
tower, when there was no living being to defend 
it. He instantly set fire to it, and then commenced 
his retreat toward his quarters ; but his retreat was 
one continued battle. New multitudes thronged 
upon him in the lower area ; and when these were 
passed, he met with a furious attack in every street 
and from every house. Every inch of ground was 
contested to and from the temple ; still in this re- 
treat he managed, by a desperate effort, to rescue 
his old friend Andres de Duero, whom the Mexi- 
cans had seized, and were dragging away for a 
sacrifice. At length he reached his quarters, every 
man being covered with blood, and sinking from ex- 
haustion. An uncounted number of the Tlascalans 
had fallen, forty-six Spaniards had been killed. 


and every other Spaniard in the action had been 

As soon as they had rested from this hard strug- 
gle, Cortes summoned his officers, to consult as to 
the time and manner of their retreat. Some ad- 
vised that they should sally out boldly by day, 
when they could see their enemies, and mark 
every danger. Others thought it best to make the 
attempt under cover of the night, thinking to es- 
cape unobserved through the darkness, and trust- 
ing to a superstition of the Mexicans, which would 
not allow them to attack an enemy during the hours 
of repose. An old soldier now came in, and pre- 
tending to be an astrologer, urged that the attempt 
should be made by night. In a little time, it was 
settled that they should start out at midnight. As 
the Mexicans had broken down the bridges of the 

* This spirited attack and defence of the temple was con- 
sidered of such high importance among the Indians, that it was 
perpetuated by lively representations in the paintings of both 
Tlascalans and Mexicans. 

Connected with this attack, a beautiful story is told by some 
historians of the devoted patriotism of two Mexican youths of 
noble rank. Finding Cortes about to gain the tower, they re- 
solved to sacrifice themselves for the good of their country, by 
involving in their own death that of the Spanish leader. With 
this design, they advanced to Cortes, and pretended to kneel 
down, as if demanding quarter : when suddenly seizing him, 
they dragged him to the edge of the upper area, resolved to 
hurl themselves down, and drag him in their fall. Cortes, by 
a desperate effort, broke from their grasp, and the youths 
perished in their unsuccessful attempt. 


causeways to prevent their escape, Cortes at once 
caused a portable bridge to be made, strong enough 
to allow his army and all the baggage to pass the 
openings. He then commanded all the treasure 
that had been collected to be brought forward, and 
separating the fifth part which belonged to the 
King, left the rest for his men ; at the same time 
advising them not to load themselves with it, as it 
might prove burdensome in their perilous retreat. 
He next ordered the plan of march. The van of 
his army, consisting of two hundred of his best 
soldiers, together with twenty horsemen, was 
placed under the command of Sandoval, aided by 
Diego de Ordaz and Francisco Lugo. The rear, 
which contained most of the Spanish troops, was 
intrusted to Pedro de Alvarado and Velasquez de 
Leon. Cortes himself, aided by Christoval de 
Olid and Davila, took charge of the centre, in 
which were placed the children of Montezuma, 
and other prisoners of distinction, together with 
the baggage, artillery, and portable bridge. The 
Tlascalans, Chempoallans, and Cholulans, amount- 
ing to several thousands, were scattered among the 
three divisions. To aid them at the time of their 
departure, the night set in densely dark, with a 
thick fog, and heavy falls of rain. At midnight,, 
the van left the quarters, and the other divisions 
soon followed. In deep silence they moved toward, 
the causeway of Tacuba, because that was known 


to be the shortest, and least frequented by the 
Mexicans. They reached the first breach unmo- 
lested, and at once commenced fixing their bridge 
for a passage. 

Suddenly the air was filled with the loud yells 
of the Mexicans. They had watched every move- 
ment. The priests sounded their horns, calling 
their countrymen to battle : the lake was covered 
with a thousand canoes ; showers of stones and 
arrows were poured in upon the Spaniards from 
the boats, while an immense number eagerly 
thronged the causeway to oppose them. Unfortu- 
nately at this time, the bridge broke down under 
the heavy weight of the baggage and artillery. 
Some of the Spaniards who had gained the other 
side hurried to the second breach, while their poor 
companions struggled to scramble across the hor- 
rid chasm, filled up now with one confused heap 
of baggage, cannon, armor, and the bodies of the 
■dead and dying. All was confusion. The rain 
fell in torrents ; the horses plunged in every direc- 
tion ; both sides of the causeway were lined with 
canoes, from which one continual attack was kept 
-up ; the Spaniards never before had witnessed any- 
thing like it. The bellowing of the horses, and the 
shrieks of the prisoners hurried away for sacrifice, 
filled the air : all was an indescribable scene of 
horror. With fury and desperation, many of the 
Spaniards fought their way over the dreadful gap, 


and joined their companions at the second breach ; 
while the largest number were either killed on the 
spot, made prisoners, or drowned. At the second 
breach, the conflict was the same. It was impos- 
sible to preserve any order ; friends and foes, sol- 
diers and officers, horse and infantry, men and 
women, were all struggling there in one wild 
scene of carnage and horror. By a desperate 
exertion, Cortes, with some of his hardiest 
veterans, forced his way across the remaining 
breaches, " the bodies of the dead serving to fill 
up the ditches." Having reached the firm land, 
he left his slender force with Sandoval and Olid, 
who had managed to escape with him, command- 
ing them to keep in perfect order, to resist any 
fresh attack, and then plunged back into the fight. 
His heart would not allow him to leave his men in 
their deplorable condition. He passed and repassed 
the last breaches more than once, sometimes swim- 
ming, sometimes scrambling over the dead : here 
he would encourage some sinking man still to 
fight ; there he would pull some drowning man to 
the firm land, and sometimes drag his captive com- 
rades from the very hands of the enemy. His 
daring struggles are almost incredible. The suf- 
ferings of his men roused every energy ; he risked 
every danger, and wonderful is it that he was not 
added to the number of the slain. In spite of all 
his efforts, however, the air still rang with the 


savage yells of the Mexicans, and the piercing 
shrieks of the poor captives. It was impossible 
to rescue all ; he did all that man could do ; he was 
heart-sick over his own inability. Now he was 
joined by a small party, which he found belonged 
to the rear division. These were Alvarado, bleed- 
ing freely, and scarcely able to stand, eight Span- 
iards, and as many Tlascalans, all wounded and 
covered with blood. Alvarado declared that these 
were all that remained of the division intrusted to 
him : all the rest, officers as well as men, and 
among them Velasquez de Leon, having been 
killed or made prisoners ; that when he came to 
the third breach, not being able to face the enemy 
or to swim across, in an effort of despair he struck 
his lance in the bottom of the ditch, and leaped to 
the other side. This effort saved him.* 

The dawn of the next day found the Spaniards 
at Popotla, near Tacuba, and showed them more 
fully their misery. They lay scattered around at 
random, wounded, exhausted, and disheartened. 
More than half the Spaniards had perished, with 
four thousand of their allies. All the ammunition, 
artillery, and baggage was lost, together with most 
of the horses. No treasure whatever was saved ; 

* The place where this happened still goes by the name of 
" Salto de Alvarado," or Alvarado's Leap ; and this dreadful 
night is still spoken of in New Spain as " Noche iriste," or the 
Night of Sorrow. 



those soldiers who had foolishly laden themselves 
with it having perished for their folly. Well nigh 
all the Mexican prisoners had likewise perished ; 
among them the prince Cacamatzin, a brother, a 
son, and two daughters of Montezuma. Velasquez 
de Leon, Francisco Morla, Francisco Sancedo, 
and Amador de Lariz, with many other Spanish 
officers, were missing. The gallant De Leon had 
been placed in command of the extreme detach- 
ment of the rear division, and not even one man 
of his party was now to be found. 

The scene touched the heart of Cortes ; he who 
could brave every danger, overcoming every fear, 
could not now overcome the feelings of a man. 
As he looked upon the wretched remnant of his 
army, and thought of his brave companions who 
were lost, his heart swelled with sorrow ; he sat 
down upon a stone, and the tears rolled down his 
face. The death of De Leon was more than he 
could well bear. He was not only a gallant com- 
rade in arms, but a friend whose heart was ever 
true to Cortes. But greater disasters were possi- 
bly before him ; and while this thought added to 
his misery, it taught him also the necessity of 
rousing his energies. Alvarado, Sandoval, Olid, 
Ordaz, Davila, and Lugo, were still around him ; 
his faithful friends Doha Marina, Aguilar, and 
Father Olmedo, were yet alive. These, with the- 
poor soldiers, were looking to him as their leader,. 


and he felt the necessity of action. The country 
all around was in arms against him ; a shelter from 
their fury was to be found immediately. He gath- 
ered his little force, and made a hurried march to 
Otoncalpolco, a temple nine miles westward from 
Mexico. Here parties of the enemy attacked him 
from time to time through the day, but by watch- 
fulness and courage he managed to drive them 
back. Still his position was dangerous : if a large 
party should assault him, he could not resist long. 
He longed to reach Tlascala, as his only safe 
resting-place ; yet it was far distant, and he knew 
that the Mexicans were watching to waylay him. 
He was in great anxiety, hesitating what he should 
do, when a Tlascalan came forward, and offered 
to conduct him to his own country by a secret 




OLLOWING their Tlascalan 
guide, the Spaniards under- 
took their wearisome march 
through a desolate country ; 
sometimes struggling through 
swamps, and then scrambling 
over mountains. Parties of 
Mexicans pursued and hung 
upon their rear, and it required the 
utmost vigilance and skill to avoid 
them. Then, too, the region through 
which they were moving was unin- 
habited, and destitute of all manner 
S of supplies ; they ate gladly such roots 
and berries as they could find. Arrived 
at Zacamolco, their famine was so great 
that they greedily devoured a horse that had been 
killed that day by the Mexicans. As to the poor 
Tlascalans, they threw themselves upon the ground, 
and piteously implored their gods to help them. 
Cortes bore himself nobly through these sorrows. 
All eyes were upon him, and his example roused 
and animated his men. At length, on the sixth 


day of the march, they came near Otompan. Par- 
ties of Mexicans now showed themselves more 
frequently, and some, as they passed, cried out 
scornfully, "Advance, advance, robbers, to receive 
the reward of your crimes !" The valley of Otom- 
pan presently burst upon their sight, covered with 
warriors as far as the eye could reach. Two hun- 
dred thousand men, headed by the nobility of the 
country, had gathered there to oppose them in their 
march to Tlascala. 

The hearts of the Spaniards now sank within 
them ; the stoutest among them were dismayed ; 
their doom was at hand. Cortes was instantly 
roused ; he saw that to allow them to shrink from 
their danger, was only to increase it. He imme- 
diately drew up his wretched army, and flanking 
it on each side with the few horsemen he could 
still command, cried out with enthusiasm, " The 
moment is arrived when we must either conquer or 
perish ! Castilians, rouse your spirits, place your 
confidence on high, and advance boldly to the 
charge !" With this, he rushed to the conflict. 
The Indians fought with the fury of revenge, the 
Spaniards with the fury of despair. More than 
once the brave band of Cortes broke through the 
lines of the enemy, but new multitudes thronged 
upon them instantly. They were overpowered 
with numbers. For four hours this horrid fight 
continued. Cortes perceived his men falling fast 9 


some dead, and others dying ; all seemed well 
nigh lost A bold thought now struck him. He 
remembered to have heard that the Mexicans were 
always routed when their general was slain and 
their standard taken. He determined to make one 
last effort. Cihuacatzin, the leader of the Indians, 
was in the midst of his troops, sitting upon his 
litter, surrounded by a guard ; and the standard, 
fastened to his back, was floating over his head. 
Cortes, calling to Alvarado, Sandoval, Olid, and 
Davila, to follow him close and guard him from 
attack, dashed toward the general. With a des- 
perate fury he broke through the crowd, reached 
the centre of the army, and with one blow of his 
lance laid Cihuacatzin on the ground. One of the 
brave Spaniards who followed leaped from his 
horse, tore the standard from the general, and in- 
stantly despatched him. In a moment, the enemy 
was in confusion ; the hopes of the Spaniards re- 
vived : they pressed hard upon them, routed and 
pursued them. They gained their victory, how- 
ever, at a great sacrifice. Numbers of the Span- 
iards and Tlascalans were slain, and every survivor 
carried his wounds. Cortes himself was danger- 
ously wounded by a blow on the head. Yet the 
conquerors left dead upon that field twenty thou- 
sand of the enemy.* 

* It is said that in this battle, a woman, called Maria de Es- 
trada, particularly distinguished herself. With her lance and 
shield, she was seen in the midst of the conflict, bearing herself 
with extraordinary courage. 


With the remnant of his army (only four hun- 
dred and forty men), Cortes now marched without 
further trouble into the Tlascalan territories. Here 
he was received with great kindness ; indeed, the 
kindness of the Tlascalans increased with his 
misfortunes. They ministered in every way to 
the comfort of his feeble but victorious army. But, 
unfortunately, some of his own men began once 
more to trouble him. Wearied with their continual 
hardships, the soldiers of Narvaez returned to their 
murmurs ; and, strange to tell, among these mur- 
murers was Andres de Duero, the friend of Cortes. 
The discontent increased ; the disaffected held 
meetings from time to time, and at last signed and 
sent a remonstrance to Cortes, urging him to aban- 
don the country and return to Cuba. 

Cortes received this with great self-possession, 
but in deep sorrow. His spirit was unbroken by 
his trials ; though misfortune had followed him, he 
still carried in his heart the fixed resolution of con- 
quering Mexico. With such a determination, he 
could not well part with any of his men. The 
best mode of silencing their murmurs was to keep 
them busy, and he soon found employment for 
them. The people of Tepejacac had sworn alli- 
ance to Cortes, but in the midst of his misfortunes 
had treacherously taken up arms against the Span- 
iards, and cut off a body of his countrymen on their 
march from Chempoalla to Mexico. Cortes re- 


solved to punish them for this conduct. With much 
difficulty, he persuaded his men to join him in this 
effort, the followers of Narvaez at length assenting, 
because the Spaniards that had been slaughtered 
belonged to their party. xVt the head of four thou- 
sand Tlascalans, together with his men, he now 
set out for these people. 

He soon subdued the Tepejacacans, penetrating 
even to their principal town. This region being 
fertile, and directly on the road to Villa Rica, he 
established in it a settlement, which he called 
Segura de la Frontera. Intent upon keeping his 
men employed, he continued his marches now in 
various directions. For months he pursued this 
line of conduct, meeting with success in almost 
every engagement. These little advantages, though 
slight, cheered him in the thought of conquering 
Mexico. He would not abandon that idea. , In- 
deed, his resolution on this point was so fixed, that 
he had already ordered a quantity of timber to be 
cut in the forests of Tlascala for the construction 
of twelve brigantines, that he might get command 
of the lake ; and Martin Lopez, an experienced 
shipwright, was now busy at this work. What 
he most needed was an addition to his numbers ; 
with his little force, he could hardly hope to 
achieve that conquest. Fortune now smiled on 
him. Diego Velasquez, ignorant of the fate of 
Narvaez, sent Pedro Barba with a small company 


to the country, bearing letters to Narvaez. These 
letters brought positive orders to Narvaez to send 
Cortes, if alive, to Cuba that he might be taken 
thence in fetters to Spain ; such being the com- 
mand of the Bishop of Burgos.* Barba and his 
followers were artfully decoyed on shore by the 
men at Villa Rica, seized, and sent prisoners to 
Cortes. The Spanish chief, with his usual policy, 
received them as friends and countrymen, and soon 
persuaded them to join his enterprise. Barba now 
informed him that another vessel would soon ap- 
pear off the coast, laden with supplies. By good 
management, the crew and cargo of this vessel 
were also secured. In a little time, a much larger 
reinforcement was added to him. The party sent 
out under Pineda, by Garay, the Governor of 
Jamaica, to establish a settlement at Panuco, had 
all been destroyed ; and the Governor, ignorant of 
this fact, now sent another body, under Camarjo, 
to aid Pineda in his labors. This second party, 
learning the fate of their countrymen, and being at 
the same time afflicted with the diseases of the 
country, sought refuge in the settlement at Vera 
Cruz. Thence they proceeded to Frontera, found 
Cortes, and at once entered his service. Other 
bodies sent out by Garay, for the same purpose of 
aiding the colony at Panuco, followed their example, 

* The Bishop of Burgos had the principal charge of West 
India affairs in Spain. He was a warm friend to the Governor 
of Cuba, and, of course, an enemy to Cortes. 


and Cortes soon found, to his great joy, that he had 
added to his numbers very unexpectedly one hun- 
dred and eighty men and twenty horses. His 
hopes* for the conquest were now brightening. 

To his sorrow, however, the followers of Nar- 
vaez again returned to their murmurs. They urged 
more earnestly than ever that they ought to be sent 
back to Cuba. Cortes perceived that the spirit of 
discontent was growing, and felt that it was better 
to lose these men, than to allow them to remain any 
longer, spreading dissatisfaction in his army. Ac- 
cordingly, he issued his proclamation, stating that 
all those who wished to return to Cuba might do 
so, and that a safe passage should be immediately 
furnished for them. Some of the discontented 
were now ashamed, and determined to remain ; but 
the larger part resolved to start, and among these 
was Andres de Duero. Cortes selected one of the 
best vessels that had belonged to Narvaez, and 
allowed them to embark. At the same time he 
sent Diego de Ordaz and Alonzo de Mendoza to 
Spain, to represent his conduct, and keep an eye 
on the Bishop of Burgos. Alonzo Davila was also 
sent to Hispaniola, to tell of their hardships and 
sufferings, the jealousy of Velasquez, and the cru- 
elty of the Bishop of Burgos, and beg assistance 
for the enterprise ; while another officer was 
despatched to Jamaica, with power to enlist sol- 
diers, and purchase horses and supplies. 


Having despatched these, he hurried his prepa- 
rations for the siege of Mexico. The timber for 
his ships being nearly ready, and the cordage, 
cables, sails, and other rigging, brought over from 
Tilla Rica, he saw nothing to delay his march 
toward the capital. He called his officers together, 
and, after consultation, it was determined to make 
their head-quarters at Tezcuco, as that seemed the 
place best adapted for annoying the enemy. Mes- 
sages were now sent to the confederate Indians, 
to hold themselves in readiness at any moment, 
and the troops were reviewed. Cortes found that 
lie still had five hundred and fifty infantry, among 
whom were eighty musketeers and crossbow -men, 
and nine pieces of artillery. Besides these, there 
were forty horsemen : and to the whole he added 
an army of ten thousand Tlascalans. This was 
his force for the conquest of Mexico. On the 
28th of December (six months after his fatal re- 
treat), he moved again toward the capital. 

Mexico was now in a far different condition 
from that in which Cortes left it. The six months 
that had passed away had been improved by its 
citizens. Cuitlahuitzin,Hhe successor of Monte- 
zuma, had not only distinguished himself by his 
bold attack upon the Spaniards on the night of their 
retreat, but he had repaired the damages done to 
his city by the invaders, made fortifications, and 
billed the magazines with armor. With all this he 


had, if possible, infused into his countrymen a still 
more deadly hatred of the Spaniards. But in the 
midst of these labors, he had been cut down by 
the small pox,* and now Guatimozin, the nephew 
of Montezuma, ruled over the kingdom. He was 
a very young man, but had exhibited such daring 
courage and great ability, that the people had called 
him to the throne. 

At the end of three days, without any opposition, 
Cortes entered Tezcuco. The streets were com- 
pletely deserted ; neither men, women, nor chil- 
dren, were to be seen. The people had carried 
their goods to the forests, or the borders of the 
lake, while the lord of Tezcuco and the nobles had 
fled to Mexico. Cortes soon learned that Tezcuco 
was divided into two parties, and instantly took 
advantage of it. The prince who had fled was 
said to be an usurper, who had murdered his elder 
brother, and his usurpation had been aided by the 
King of Mexico. At the same time a youth was 
pointed out to Cortes as the lawful heir, and he 
immediately caused him to be proclaimed lord of 
Tezcuco. He succeeded in persuading this youth 
to embrace Christianity, and at his baptism he re- 
ceived the name of Hern an Cortes, the Spanish 
chief standing as the godfather. Cortes then ap- 
pointed Escobar and two other Spaniards to attend 

* The small pox had been introduced into the kingdom by a 
slave who came into the country with Narvaez. 


upon the new lord. Terms of friendship were at 
once made : the young man engaging to do all in 
his power to aid the Spaniards ; which engagement, 
it is said, he kept religiously. 

Having thus arranged matters at Tezcuco, re- 
membering certain acts of Cuitlahuitzin, the former 
lord of Iztapalapan, he determined to attack that 
city. Accordingly, at the head of two hundred 
and thirty-five Spaniards and all the Tlascalan 
army, he marched against it. At their approach, 
all the inhabitants fled to their canoes. The Span- 
iards took possession without any trouble, and as 
the night was coming on, resolved to make their 
quarters there. They had scarcely retired, when 
the water began to rise and overflow the city. The 
Iztapalapans had broken the mole of the lake, 
hoping to drown them. The Tezcucans gave the 
alarm in time, and, with great difficulty, Cortes 
made good his retreat. He lost, however, two of 
his men, a number of Tlascalans, and one of the 
horses. This ingenuity of the Indians troubled 
him very much ; he felt that his enemies were 
more dangerous than he had supposed them to be. 

His next effort was to get possession of the two 
towns of Chalco and Tlalmamalco, places of great 
importance to the Spaniards, as they lay directly 
between Tlascala and Tezcuco. Accordingly, 
Sandoval and Lugo were sent with a body of two 
hundred men to drive the Mexicans from them. 


This they easily accomplished. Messengers now 
came from Mizquic, Otompan, and other cities, 
begging the protection of the Spaniards ; all of 
whom Cortes received very kindly, readily making 
terms with them. 

All the materials for building his vessels bein£ 
at length ready, Cortes determined to have them 
brought from Tlascala to Tezcuco. This was 
an important business, and Sandoval was selected 
to perform it. On the way to Tlascala was the 
town of Zoltepec, whose inhabitants (at the time 
when Cortes was hurrying to the relief of Alvara- 
do) had surprised and murdered forty Spaniards 
and three hundred Tlascalans, on their march from 
Vera Cruz to Mexico. Cortes was resolved to 
punish them for this act, and consequently gave 
orders to Sandoval to stop there and chastise 
them on his way. When Sandoval approached 
this city, the inhabitants fled. He pursued 
them, and made many prisoners. The pite- 
ous cries of the women, however, induced him 
to spare them all ; they expressed great sorrow 
for what they had done, and he only exacted 
from them a promise of obedience and good con- 
duct for the future. This was the more generous 
in the leader, inasmuch as he discovered many 
things to rouse his revenge. In one of the tem- 
ples, he saw the walls and idols besmeared with 
the blood of his countrymen ; while the skins of 


two of their faces, together with those of four 
horses, were hung upon the altars. On a wall in 
one of the houses he found this inscription : " In 
this place Juan Zuste and his wretched compan- 
ions were confined." From Zoltepec, Sandoval 
moved on to Tlascala, wnere he found all ready, 
and Chichimecatl, with a large army of Tlascalans, 
prepared to start. Eight thousand men were em- 
ployed in carrying the timbers, cordage, and other 
materials. A Spanish guard went before them, 
and a guard of allies was placed on each side. 
In this mode they marched out from Tlascala. 
Flying parties of Indians sometimes were seen, 
but none dared to approach them. At length they 
came near to Tezcuco. Great was the joy now 
of the Spaniards in that city. Cortes and his offi- 
cers came out to meet the procession, and the 
Spanish leader, with great delight, embraced Chi- 
chimecatl and two other chiefs, and thanked them 
for their great kindness. Six hours were spent in 
entering Tezcuco. It was a perfect jubilee. The 
allies, dressed in their finest garments, and decked 
off with their gay plumes, marched through the 
streets, sounding their horns and beating their 
drums, while the air rang with the shouts of tri- 
umph for Castile and Tlascala. 

Martin Lopez, the shipwright, now declared that 
it required twenty days to make ready for the 
launching, and Cortes determined to keep his men 


employed in the mean time in reducing the cities that 
were friendly to Guatimozin. Leaving Sandoval at 
Tezcuco, with a party of his followers he attacked 
the cities of Xaltocan and Tacubs, the first of 
which was plundered and partly destroyed by fire. 
Upon his return, Sandoval sallied out and routed 
their enemies at Huaxtepec and Jacapitchtla. To 
add to their joy at this time, a further reinforce- 
ment of Spaniards arrived at Tezcuco, under Ju- 
lian de Alderete. Alderete stated that the vessel 
which had brought him was now lying at Vera 
Cruz, laden with military stores for the army, and 
(what was still better news for Cortes) that the 
Bishop of Burgos, one of his principal enemies, 
had been deposed from, his authority over the West 

Motives of policy, as well as the desire to pre- 
serve the city of Mexico (for Cortes felt assured 
now that he should conquer it), prompted the Span- 
ish leader to send messengers to Guatimozin, pro- 
posing to make terms of peace. Guatimozin, how- 
ever, would listen to no terms ; he sent back a 
scornful answer, and Cortes at once returned to his 
depredations. The city of Quauhnahuac was next 
attacked and reduced. Thence he sallied against 
Xochimilco, a large town on the lake of Chalco. 
Here multitudes had gathered to oppose him ; they 
had cut down the bridges to stop him, and erected 
palisades to shelter themselves. The eager Span- 


iards dashed into the stream, and many lost their 
lives in attempting to swim over. The battle was 
fierce on both sides. In this struggle Cortes came 
near losing his life. His horse fell under him, 
while surrounded by the enemy : he was instantly 
knocked down ; a crowd seized him and were car- 
rying him off in triumph. At this moment, Chris- 
toval de Olid, perceiving his perilous condition^ 
dashed forward with a body of Tlascalans, and, by 
a mighty effort, rescued him. Cortes and Olid 
both received dangerous wounds on the head. 
Many of his soldiers being also wounded, he was 
forced to remain four days at this place, that they 
might all recruit. During this time, the enemy 
annoyed them very much. A party of four of his 
men having wandered off to sack a house on the 
shore of the lake, the Mexicans came in canoes, 
surrounded it, and carried them off. These unfor- 
tunate captives were taken to Guatimozin, who ex- 
amined them very particularly as to the numbers 
that followed Cortes. After gaining from them all 
the information he could, he ordered their hands 
and feet to be cut off. In this condition they were 
exhibited through the country, until at length he 
commanded that they should be killed. 

To his surprise, Cortes discovered now that some 
of his men were still disaffected ; indeed, that this 
disaffection had even ripened into a plot to destroy 
him. The few remaining soldiers of Narvaez were 


once more the cause of the trouble. The princi- 
pal man among them was Antonio Villafaiia. He 
was still a warm friend to Velasquez, and, of course, 
disliked the Spanish leader. Though a private 
soldier, he was a man of uncommon power ; ener- 
getic, resolute, and persuasive, he secretly cher- 
ished discontent among the men with great success. 
From time to time they met at his quarters, until 
at length, having prepared them for action, he 
boldly proposed that they should murder Cortes 
•and his principal officers, give the command of the 
army to a brother-in-law of Velasquez, and force 
him to' take them back to Cuba. They all wel- 
comed the proposition, bound themselves by an 
oath, and signed their names to a paper presented 
by Villafaiia. Their plan was to murder them 
while at table : a letter, feigned to have come from 
Vera Cruz, was to be presented to Cortes, and 
while he was engaged in reading it, the fatal blow 
was to be given. Others soon joined them ; they 
felt strong ; the day was fixed. On the eve of that 
clay, a soldier (one of the original followers of 
Cortes) came to the commander, and begged that 
he might see him privately. His request was im- 
mediately granted. He now threw himself at the 
feet of Cortes, unfolded the whole plan, and im- 
plored his forgiveness ; he was one of the con- 
spirators, but had not the heart to be so longer. 
The news startled Cortes ; yet he was, as usual, 


self-possessed. He instantly summoned Sando- 
val, Alvarado, and some others of the intended 
victims, and proceeded to Villafaha's quarters. 
Numbers were there ; they were taken by surprise ; 
they looked like guilty men. Some tried to es- 
cape, but were immediately taken. Cortes himself 
seized Villafana, and snatched from his bosom the 
paper containing the names of the conspirators. 
The accomplices of Villafana were carried to pris- 
on, while he was immediately brought to trial. His 
guilt was proved, he was condemned to die, and 
the next morning was seen hano-ing before the 
door of his quarters. 

The paper showed names surprising to Cortes : 
the conspiracy was far deeper than he had sup- 
posed. It was impossible, however, to bring these 
men to execution ; he could not spare them. With 
great presence of mind, he ordered the prisoners 
to be set at liberty, and then assembled all his 
troops. He now told them of the awful plot that had 
threatened destruction to all their hopes. Pointing 
to the body of Villafana, he called on them to look 
upon the traitor, declaring that he was very happy 
that his doom fell upon no other Spaniard ; that 
there were other conspirators, but he was ignorant 
as to who they were ; he himself had arrested 
Villafaiia, but in his confusion and fright the guilty 
man had swallowed a paper containing the names 
of his accomplices ; and who these accomplices 


might be, could now never be known. The guilty- 
men in the crowd were at once relieved ; they 
fancied they were unsuspected, while at the same 
time their leader knew them all, and watched them 

In a little time, they were gathered together on 
a more joyous occasion. Martin Lopez had worked 
diligently, and all was now ready for the launch. 
The Spaniards having attended mass and received 
the communion, the whole army was drawn up on 
the banks of the canal. The brigantines glided 
gently into the water, while Father Olmedo stood 
by to bless them and give their names. The sails 
were then hoisted, to try them ; and, as they 
ploughed the water, the " te DeunC was chanted, 
while the words echoed with the roar of artillery 
and shouts of joy. 




ORTES reviewed his army 
once more, preparatory to his 
attack upon the city of Mex- 
ico. He found that he had 
eighty-six horsemen, eight 
hundred infantry, together with 
three large cannons, fifteen 
small field-pieces, a thousand 
pounds of gunpowder, and a large 
quantity of balls and arrows. To 
these he added an immense number 
of Tlarcalans and other allies, and 
then divided his army into three 
parts, placing over these his well-tried 
officers Sandoval, Alvarado, and Olid. 
The towns of Tepejacac, Tacuba, and 
Cojohuacan, were situated on the causeways, and 
served to guard the city from the first attacks. The 
three divisions were to take possession of these 
three places, while Cortes himself took the com- 
mand of the fleet, which was considered the most 
important part of the enterprise. 

The parties soon set out for their respective 


positions. Alvarado and Olid in a little time- 
reached Tacuba. The aqueduct of Chapoltepec 
passed through this place, affording a supply of 
fresh water to the Mexican capital. This they 
determined to destroy, and at once set to the work. 
The Mexicans opposed them fiercely ; the strug- 
gle was a hard one, but at length they succeeded 
in cutting off the pipes. Flushed with success, 
they now attempted to take possession of the first 
bridge on the causeway of Tacuba. As they ap- 
proached this spot, they found immense numbers 
gathered to oppose them ; the causeway was 
thronged with the enemy, while each side was 
lined with canoes, from which the Mexicans poured 
in their arrows. At the first discharge, three Span- 
iards were slain and thirty wounded. The Span- 
iards only fought the more fiercely ; yet, after all 
their efforts, they were forced to retreat to Tacuba, 
eight of their number being dead, and more than 
fifty wounded. Leaving Alvarado, Olid pushed on 
to his station at Cojohuacan. 

In the mean time, Cortes had brought the fleet 
out on the lake, and after various manoeuvres, pro- 
ceeded to attack a rock near the city, where a 
large number of the inhabitants had fled for refuge. 
The Mexicans, perceiving his design, sent out 
their whole naval force (consisting of four thou- 
sand canoes) against his brigantines. Cortes now 
moved fairly out into the lake, and formed his fleet 


in the shape of a crescent to receive them. As 
they came near, the sails of the brigantines were 
spread, and they dashed through them, over- 
turning some, and scattering the rest, to the great 
loss of the Mexicans. Olid had now reached 
his post, and from the temple at Cojohuacan saw 
the conflict on the lake. He instantly pushed 
along the causeway toward the city, drove the 
Mexicans from some of the trenches, and took pos- 
session. Cortes now attacked the bastion called 
Xoloc, situated at the angle made by the junction 
of the roads of Cojohuacan and Iztapalapan. The 
Mexicans defended the place with great obstinacy ; 
multitudes fell in their efforts to save it, but it was 
stormed and taken. As this was a spot of great 
importance, and in direct communication with the 
division of Olid, Cortes determined to establish his 
camp here. The three divisions were now on the 
three causeways, and, as the principal attacks of 
the enemy were from the canoes that lined them, 
he distributed his fleet so as to protect the three 
divisions in their three efforts against the city — 
giving orders that they were to be managed in strict 
obedience to the three officers in command. The 
siege now regularly commenced. 

From this moment, a series of attacks, retreats, 
skirmishes, and manoeuvres, were going on upon 
the causeways. The causeway of Tacuba was 
the shortest, and it was supposed that Alvarado 


would be the first, therefore, to enter the city. But 
the fact that it was the shortest caused it to be the 
most carefully guarded. Every morning, Alvarado 
renewed his attempt, and each day met with a- 
sharp opposition. At night, the Mexicans repaired 
whatever damage he had done, and in the morning 
showed themselves as stubborn as ever ; while the 
Spaniards, regardless of wounds, endeavored to 
push their way onward to the capital, and were 
continually disappointed in their hope of reaching 
it. Alvarado perceived now, to his sorrow, that 
the destruction of the aqueduct of Chapoltepec 
had not taken from the city its supply of water. 
Canoes were seen continually by night bringing 
casks from the towns on the borders of the 
lake. Provisions were brought in the same way ; 
thus defeating the hope of reducing the city by 
famine. Two of the brigantines were set to watch 
these boats and intercept them, but the cunning 
of the Mexicans defeated this. Their canoes were 
sailing in every direction, to beguile them. So far 
from being taken themselves, they even contrived 
to tempt the two brigantines near the border of the 
lake, where thirty of their largest boats lay in am- 
bush. An attack was instantly made : the brigan- 
tines could not well be worked in that position ; 
every Spaniard was wounded, and one of the cap- 
tains killed. To increase the difficulty of the siege, 
periodical rains now set in ; these, however, did 


not deter Alvarado and his followers from their at- 
tempts, though these attempts were still unsuccess- 
ful. Whatever advance he made, however, was a 
safe one ; if he gained a foot of ground, he kept it. 
Houses were destroyed and ditches filled behind 
him as far as he passed, to enable him to make 
good his retreat, if it became necessary. Very 
much the same scenes were passing on the other 
causeways. Daily efforts were made, both by 
land and water, to force an entrance into the city, 
and all proved unsuccessful. 

At last, wearied and mortified with continued 
disappointment, Cortes resolved upon a general as- 
sault. Accordingly, he commanded Alvarado and 
Sandoval to lead on their divisions, regardless of 
all opposition, while he himself took the command 
of the division at Cojohuacan. The order was in- 
stantly obeyed : the three divisions moved forward. 
The Mexicans met them with the fury of madmen ; 
their opposition was tremendous. In spite of this 
opposition, however, Cortes continued to gain 
ground, carrying everything before him. Julian 
de Alderete, according to command that he should 
follow on and fill up all ditches behind him, was 
close upon him, but, in the ardor of the struggle, 
neglected this necessary duty. The Mexicans at 
length fled before Cortes, in apparent dismay, and 
he reached the capital. This was only a strata- 
gem : the design was to bring him beyond the nar- 


tow pass in the causeway. He had no sooner 
entered the city, than the big drum was struck, the 
horns in the temple sent forth their blasts : the- 
Mexicans raised their horrid yells, and at once 
flocked to the causeway. Alarmed for the safety 
of his men, Cortes ordered a retreat. Accordingly, 
they commenced retreating, but when they reached 
the narrow pass, all ' was confusion. Multitudes 
pressed upon them by land, arrows were showered 
upon them from the boats ; it was now a general 
rout. Struggling to escape, the men pushed on 
only to plunge into the big ditch left open by Al- 
derete. In that fatal gap fell men and horses, 
Spaniards and Indians, all in one mighty struggle. 
Cortes was still self-possessed ; regardless of his 
life, he plunged into the gap, animating some, and 
rescuing others. Many a sinking companion did 
he save that day. In the midst of these noble 
struggles, he received a wound in the leg ; six 
Mexicans seized him, and were carrying him off 
in triumph. At this critical moment, two brave 
Spaniards, Olea and Lerma, rushed to his rescue. 
Olea killed four of the Mexicans, and then lost his 
own life ; while Lerma, sinking with his wounds, 
would likewise have been a captive, had not Qui- 
nones, with a body of Spaniards and Tlascalans, 
at that instant snatched them from their danger. 
Cortes was lifted out of the water and placed upon 
a horse ; the miserable remnant of his division 
escaping as it could. 


Alvarado was hardly more successful. Hav- 
ing vanquished Cortes, the enemy now rushed 
upon him in greater numbers. To aid them, they 
cunningly threw into his ranks five bleeding 
heads, swearing that they were the heads of Cortes, 
Sandoval, and other chiefs, and that Alvarado's 
should soon be added to the number. The Span- 
iards were in dismay ; they supposed that their 
brave leader had perished, and could tight no longer. 
Alvarado ordered a hasty retreat, and with great 
difficulty escaped with a part of his division. 

The division of Sandoval suffered the least loss. 
He had pressed- far on toward the city, and felt 
sure of success, when suddenly numbers rushed 
upon him, both Cortes and Alvarado being defeat- 
ed. The Mexicans resorted to the same stratagem 
that had been practised upon Alvarado. With des- 
perate energy, however, he continued the fight, 
until, finding that there was no hope of success, 
he commenced. retreating. By an effort of skill, 
he managed his retreat in so orderly a manner, that 
only two of his men were killed. The great mass, 
however (among them Sandoval himself), was 
wounded. In this general assault, which had thus 
ended, sixty Spaniards and a great number of 
allies were slain, while almost every survivor was 
suffering from his wounds. In addition to this, 
they lost six horses, one cannon, and a quantity 
of their arms. 


Night now closed in, but not to give them rest. 
The Mexicans prepared for a frightful festival. 
The Spaniards heard the sound of the big drum, 
and the blasts of the horns and trumpets, mingled 
with the exulting yells of the conquerors, while in 
the temples, that were brilliantly illuminated, they 
saw the priests moving about, and their poor cap- 
tive comrades made to dance naked before the 
idols. Then, too, they could hear the piercing 
shrieks of the wretched prisoners as tlaey were 
laid upon the altars to be sacrificed ; and while 
they spent the long night weeping for their friends, 
they vowed in their hearts an awful revenge. 

After this defeat, the Mexicans sent the heads 
of those slain in sacrifice to all the neighboring 
towns and provinces, declaring to the people that 
the gods, being delighted with the blood of those 
sacrifices, had promised that in eight days the 
hated Spaniards should all be destroyed, and peace 
restored to their empire. This was a cunning 
stratagem. The superstition of the Indians al- 
lowed them to believe the story ; and thus those 
provinces already hostile to the Spaniards, became 
more bitter in their hatred, while their allies 
began to desert. Even the Tlascalans were dis- 
posed to abandon him.* Cortes very prudently 
determined to attempt nothing during these eight 

* It is said that Chichimecatl, the young lord of Tezcuco, 
and eight Tlascalans, were all that stood by him. 


days. He placed himself on the defensive, and 
resolved to wait quietly until the Indians should 
see that the story was idle. 

Eight days passed away, and the Spaniards 
were still undestroyed. The Indians now flocked 
again to the standard of Cortes in larger numbers 
than ever ; he soon had the command of fifty thou- 
sand allies. Just at this time, a vessel arrived at 
Villa Rica with men and ammunition. This last 
article was very much needed, as the Spaniards 
had spent nearly all their gunpowder. With a 
heart unbroken by his fresh calamity, and still car- 
rying the fixed determination of conquering Mexico, 
Cortes now resolved upon another attack. This 
time he was resolved to trust to prudence as well 
as courage ; and, giving up all thought of preserv- 
ing the city, he at once commenced his siege of 

The three divisions were commanded to advance 
in strict military order : they were to destroy every 
house in the way ; while the allies, following im- 
mediately behind, were to fill up all ditches — • 
thereby making a retreat easy, if necessary. The 
divisions started, and the plan was regularly fol- 
lowed up. Day after day the Mexicans found 
themselves shut up in narrower limits ; yet Guati- 
mozin continued his resistance, and seemed deter- 
mined to see the last house in Mexico razed to th& 
ground before he would consent that the Spaniards 


should enter the city. At length, Alvarado with 
his division worked his way to the great squaro 
of Tlalteloco. He found that a great number of 
warriors and priests had gathered in the temple 
which commanded the entrance to the square ; and 
as his comrades from the other causeways were to 
meet in this square (the general mustering-place 
agreed upon), he determined to attack them. With 
his whole force, he rushed impetuously forward, 
gained the temple, drove out the Mexicans, set fire 
to the idols, and planted the Spanish banner on 
the top of the building, to cheer his approaching 

This was a joyous signal to Cortes and Sando- 
val. With renewed energies they pressed on, and 
in four days joined Alvarado in the square. His 
plan was thus far successful ; he was now master 
of the western portion of the city, and Cortes re- 
solved to pursue it further. Before doing this, 
however, he sent another messenger to Guatimo- 
zin with proposals. The proud Mexican King 
again gave him a scornful answer, and the Span- 
iards at once renewed their operations. Every 
day the Mexicans were enclosed in a narrower 
compass, while a heap of ruins continued to 
mark the progress of the Spaniards. The situ- 
ation of the Mexicans was now awful. The 
brigantines commanded the lake, the Tlascalans 
cut off all communication by land ; and thus the 


horrors of famine were added to those of war. 
The want of food soon produced disease among 
them, and now the awful horrors of war, famine, 
and pestilence, were all upon them. Every night 
the poor famishing creatures were prowling about 
the Spanish quarters in search of food ; every day 
they were shut up in smaller limits. The heart 
of Guatimozin was touched, but not subdued ; with 
a proud and unconquerable spirit, he seemed re- 
solved to see his beautiful capital one complete 
ruin, rather than submit. All the city, except one 
small quarter, was now in possession of the Span- 
iards, and this was soon to share the fate of the 

The command of the fleet was given to Sando- 
val. He was to attack that quarter by sea, while 
Cortes made an assault by land. The Mexicans 
now perceived that all was well nigh over, and 
tried to persuade Guatimozin to quit the place, fly 
to the distant provinces, and there rally his troops. 
To aid him in this matter, they brought to Cortes 
pretended proposals of peace — hoping that while 
he was negotiating with them, Guatimozin might 
escape. In this plan they were disappointed : the 
bold defence of Guatimozin, with his bold answers, 
had taught the Spanish chief that the death or cap- 
tivity of that prince was necessary to the estab- 
lishment of the Spaniards in his kingdom. Deter- 
mined, therefore, that he should in no way escape, 


he had given strict commands to Sandoval to be 
on the lookout. Every canoe was closely watched. 
Seeing some large boats moving speedily toward 
the land, Sandoval gave signal for a chase. Gar- 
cia Holguin, who commanded the swiftest brigan- 
tine, soon came up with them. From the superior 
appearance of one of the boats, he judged it to be 
the King's, and instantly prepared to fire upon it. 
Guatimozin now showed himself, and declared he 
was ready to submit. With the Queen and his 
attendants he was immediately taken on board the 
vessel. His first demand was that he might be 
taken before the Spanish general. He was carried 
to the shore, and brought before Cortes. Though 
vanquished, his spirit was unbroken. He cried out 
to the Spaniard, " Malinatzin, I have done all in 
my power to defend my kingdom and my people. 
All my efforts have been fruitless. I have nothing 
else to attempt. Take your dagger and stab me 
to the heart !" Cortes was too much of a soldier 
not to feel. Guatimozin was a young man (only 
then five-and-twenty), and, though a captive, had 
proved himself a hero. He endeavored to console 
him in his sorrow, promising that he should con- 
tinue to reign, subject to the authority of the King 
of Spain ; and commanded that he, with his family, 
should be treated with marked respect. The siege 
was now ended : he was master of the capital. 
But what was the capital now ? Three fourths 


of that once beautiful city lay in ruins, and all the 
squares, streets, and courts, were filled with dead 
bodies. It was scarcely possible to move without 
stumbling over them. Bernal Diaz (one of the 
soldiers of Cortes) declares that " all the streets, 
squares, and houses, were covered with the bodies 
of the slain ; among the heaps of which were to 
be seen many wretches crawling about in an ad- 
vanced stage of those loathsome diseases produced 
by famine, or unnatural food, exhaustion, and in- 
fected air. The trees had been stripped of their 
bark — the earth dug up, in search of food. Not 
a drop of fresh water could be found." The Span- 
iards had lost in that siege more than one hundred 
of their men ; their allies had lost thousands ; 
while no less than one hundred and fifty thousand 
Mexicans had perished. The air was polluted 
with the masses of the dead. Cortes was forced 
to leave the city, that it might be cleansed ; and 
during three days and nights the causeways were 
filled with miserable beings carrying off the dead.* 
In all this misery, the Spaniards felt the joy of 
conquerors. They had endured a hard struggle ; 
their enemy was subdued : they were now to find 
their treasures. Returning to the city, they com- 
menced their search ; but it was only to be disap- 
pointed. No booty was to be gathered ; the whole 

* It is said that Maria Estrada again distinguished herself in 
this siege, together with Beatriz Bermudez, and several other 



quantity of gold that was discovered amounted only 
to one hundred and twenty thousand dollars, hardly 
sufficient to pay the expense of the enterprise. 
Their golden hopes were clouded : now they be- 
gan to murmur. By the advice of Father Olmedo, 
this treasure was divided among the sick and 
wounded. The murmurs of the discontented now 
became louder ; they began to insinuate that Cortes 
was unjust. There was a rumor that Guatimozin, 
four days before he was taken, had thrown quan- 
tities of gold and precious stones into the lake, to 
disappoint the avarice of the Spaniards ; and now 
they openly declared that Cortes knew more about 
this matter than he was willing to confess. They 
demanded that Guatimozin should be put to the 
torture until he should confess where the treasures 
were hid. Cortes very properly refused this cruel 
demand. They were only the more clamorous, cry- 
ing out that it was no good feeling which prompted 
him to deny thern, but a desire to keep the place 
concealed, that he alone might have all the treasure. 
A revolt was openly talked of. Thus ungenerously 
accused, to prove his innocence, in a weak mo- 
ment Cortes allowed them to seize Guatimozin. He 
was instantly put to the torture. The agony was 
borne by the unfortunate King with unflinching for- 
titude, until Cortes, in a rage, snatched him away 
from them. He had no story to tell : the treasures 


were not to be found.* The life of this unhappy- 
captive was, however, only prolonged three years ; 
the statement of a Mexican inducing the Spaniards 
to suspect a revolt, in which he was said to be con- 
cerned, he was condemned to die, and was hanged. 

Cortes now resolved to send some of his men to 
the distant provinces, to subdue them and plant 
settlements. This was necessary, to make his 
conquest complete ; while, at the same time, it 
would serve to employ his soldiers, turn their 
thoughts from their disappointment, and possibly 
lead them to the treasures they desired. Accord- 
ingly, Sandoval, Olid, and others, were started off 
with parties in various directions. 

But while' he was thus busily engaged in con- 
quests which were daily adding kingdoms to the 
Spanish crown, his enemies had been busy in 
Spain. The Bishop of Burgos and others tor- 
mented the King with the entreaty to take all 
power and command from the Spanish conqueror. 
Moved by their importunities, Charles at last con- 
sented. Mexico was scarcely reduced, when Chris- 
toval de Tapia arrived at Vera Cruz, with full 

* There is a story that the lord of Tacuba was put to the 
torture with Guatimozin. The mode of torture was, by anoint- 
ing their feet with oil, and exposing them to fire. This poor man, 
it is said, died in the midst of it, and in his last agony cast an 
imploring look toward the King. Guatimozin, observing this 
look, cried out reproachfully, "Aral reposing on a bed of 


power to seize Cortes, and treat him as a guilty 
man. Alvarado, who was in command at Villa 
Rica, received Tapia very kindly, but at the same 
time sent a messenger to Cortes, to tell him of the 
danger that threatened him. Tapia was now ad- 
vancing toward Mexico, and Cortes commanded 
some of his officers to go out and meet him, that 
they might come to terms peaceably. Father 01- 
medo and others persuaded him to return to Chem- 
poalla, and there show his commission to them. 
Tapia was treated with great respect, but he soon 
found that he was dealing with men more cunning 
than himself, and that he could hardly hope to fulfil 
his orders ; time was wasted, and his business not 
at all forwarded. By the advice of his friends, 
Cortes now tried the power of gold upon Tapia. 
The plan succeeded ; he was at once bought over. 
This danger being averted, Cortes now set dili- 
gently to the work of rebuilding Mexico. This 
was to be done in grand style, suitable to the capi- 
tal of the New World. The ruins and rubbish 
being cleared away, grounds were marked off for 
the erection of churches, convents, and public 
buildings, while others were laid out for squares 
and market-places. He caused a magnificent pal- 
ace to be erected for himself, and here took up his 
residence. His old prisoner Narvaez was now 
thought of. Sending to Villa Rica, he had him 
brought to Mexico, that he might be reconciled to 


him. Cortes received him with great kindness, 
embraced him warmly, and would not allow him 
to submit to the custom of kissing his hand. He 
was now at liberty. This generosity was for- 
gotten by Narvaez. Led on by the Bishop of 
Burgos, he became afterward one of the bitterest 
enemies of Cortes. 





^Jfjtf-'J - HILE thus employed at the 

capital, Cortes was suddenly 
called off by a revolt in the 
province of Panuco. The na- 
tives of that region had risen 
in arms, and massacred many 
of the Spaniards who had gone 
there to make settlements. Cor- 
tes instantly, upon hearing this, 
marched out against them, routed 
them in two battles, forced them to 
submit to his authority, and then 
returned to Mexico to continue his 

As past experience had taught him 
to dread the influence of his enemies in 
Spain, he determined to send messengers once 
more to that kingdom, to watch his interests and 
represent his conduct. Accordingly, two of his 
particular friends, Alonzo Davila and Quinones, 
were despatched there, bearing a rich present of 
gold and jewels to the King, together with a re- 
quest from their countrymen that the chief com- 


mand of New Spain might be given to their leader. 
At the same time, Cortes sent letters, to advance 
his owix interests and those of his faithful officers. 
These messengers were very unfortunate on their 
voyage. Quinones was killed in a duel at Ter- 
ceira, and Davila was made a prisoner by a French 
privateer and carried to France. From this point, 
however, he was enabled to send his letters to Don 
Martin, the father of Hernan Cortes. The appre- 
hensions of Cortes were well founded. A furious 
contest was now going on in Spain about him. 
All manner of charges were brought against him 
by the Bishop of Burgos, backed by Narvaez 
and Tapia, who had now returned to Spain ; while 
his cause was strongly supported by his father Don 
Martin, and his officers Francisco de Montejo and 
Diego de Ordaz. Fortunately, these last suc- 
ceeded in gaining the friendship of the Duke of 
Bejar and other powerful grandees ; and now the 
claims of the conqueror were so ably sustained 
before the King, that justice forced him to yield. 
Cortes had conquered the new kingdom ; Cortes 
could rule it ; and to him, therefore, was now sent 
out a commission as " Captain-General and Gover- 
nor of New Spain." At the same time, a number 
of men were despatched by the King to collect and 
manage the royal revenues. 

Upon receiving this commission, Cortes contin- 
ued to carry out his plans most vigorously. The 


city of Mexico was hourly rising from its ruins, 
while his officers, despatched in every direction, 
were wandering through the distant provinces, 
searching for mines, or making settlements. So 
devoted were his followers now, that it is said he 
might, without an effort, have become an absolute 
monarch over the new region he had conquered. 
But his heart was true to his king ; he desired no 
such honor. It was enough for him to have added 
so vast an empire to the land of his birth, and now 
to rule over it under the authority of another. 

About this time, Garay, the Governor of Jamaica, 
set sail, with a large body of followers, for the re- 
duction of Panuco. At Cuba he heard of the great 
exploits of Cortes, and that this province was sub- 
dued by him. Having, however, his commission 
from the Bishop of Burgos, he hoped to negotiate 
with Cortes, and assume the command : and there- 
fore continued his voyage. The weather driving 
him into the river Palmas, he landed his men, and 
determined to march into Panuco. Upon reach- 
ing that place, he found that the soldiers of 
Cortes had possession ; his own soldiers began 
to join them, and he saw that his adventure 
was an idle one. Vallejo, who commanded the 
settlement of San Estevan, had sent notice of his 
arrival to Cortes ; and Alvarado, Sandoval, and 
Father Olmedo, were sent to Panuco, with com- 
mands for Garay to leave the country. But Garay's 


position was hardly that of an opponent ; a large 
number of his men had deserted him, and he was 
forced to request Cortes to aid him in making them 
return to their duty. They were soon on terms 
of peace ; and, at the suggestion of Father Olme- 
do, the Governor's son was married to Doha Cata- 
lina, the daughter of Cortes. 

The expedition of Garay, however, gave trouble 
in another way. His soldiers went to wandering 
through the country, insulting and robbing the na- 
tives, until at last they became exasperated and 
determined upon revenge. So completely did they 
carry out their design, that in a little time it is said 
they killed, sacrificed, and devoured five hundred 
of the soldiers of Garay. Not satisfied with this, 
they went so far as to destroy every Spania.d whom 
they could find straggling, and at length took up 
arms for the destruction of the colony of San Es- 
tevan. Yallejo and many of his companions were 
killed in defending themselves, and forty Spaniards 
belonging to that settlement were seized and burnt 
in one night. Cortes immediately despatched San- 
doval, with a strong force, against the Panuchese. 
That officer soon subdued them, making the Ca- 
ciques and most of the guilty men his prisoners. 
Upon sending to Cortes to know what should be 
done with them, a message was returned that 
Diego de Ocampo, the magistrate, should look into 
the matter, and punish the guilty, while at the same 


time he should use all proper means to conciliate 
the natives. Many of the Caciques confessed 
their guilt, while others were proved to be guilty ; 
and these were all either burnt or hanged. A num- 
ber received a free pardon ; and, that no such diffi- 
culty might occur again, the soldiers of Garay were 
collected and sent back to Cuba. 

Cortes now turned again to the work of improve- 
ment and discovery. News having reached him 
that in the districts of Higueras and Honduras 
there were extensive and valuable mines : in fact, 
that gold was so plenty there, that the weights on 
the fishermen's nets were made of it — and, more- 
over, that a passage might there be discovered into 
the Pacific ocean — he determined to send an ex- 
pedition into that region. Accordingly, he fitted 
out six ships, and gathering three hundred and sev- 
enty soldiers, gave the command to Christoval de 
Olid, with orders to proceed to Cuba, procure all 
necessary supplies, and thence to pursue his voyage 
to Higueras and make a settlement. 

Troubles were still gathering for Cortes in Spain. 
His enemies were still active against him ; the tax- 
gatherers who had been sent out by the King en- 
vied him his palace and his authority over the new 
kingdom. Private hatred, too, was in the hearts 
of some. One of his men (Rodrigo de Albornoz)had 
ambitiously desired to marry the daughter of the 
Prince of Tezcuco, and Cortes had opposed it. 


The man remembered this with a bitter feeling. 
Heavy accusations against Cortes had been sent 
to Spain. He was charged with laying heavy 
taxes upon the people, fortifying castles for his 
own use, and in every way preparing to make 
himself a king. The Bishop of Burgos and Nar- 
vaez urged these accusations warmly before the 
King, while, as formerly, the Duke of Bejar used 
his influence against them ; the King was waver- 
ing and undecided. At length, in an effort to please 
both parties, he determined that the conduct of 
Cortes should be investigated. Ponce de Leon 
was therefore despatched to Mexico, with powers 
to seize the Governor if he should think it neces- 
sary, and send him under a strong guard to Spain. 
Difficulties at home, too, again annoyed him. 
Olid, upon his arrival at Cuba, tempted by Velas- 
quez, had proved a traitor to his general. Pro- 
ceeding to Higueras, he had planted the colony of 
the Triumph of the Cross, and declared himself 
independent of Cortes. The Spanish leader was 
greatly grieved over this treason. Olid had shared 
with him his trials and his triumphs ; and yet it 
was necessary to punish him, as an example to the 
rest of his countrymen. An expedition, under the 
command of Francisco Las Casas, was immedi- 
ately sent against him. The vessel was unfortu- 
nately driven ashore by a storm ; some of the men 
perished, others were made prisoners by Olid— 


among the rest, Las Casas. Upon being set free, 
however, he persuaded the soldiers of Olid to re- 
turn to their duty, and seize their traitorous leader. 
Olid was arrested, shortly afterward sentenced to 
die, and beheaded. 

Anxious to stop this treason, and not hearing 
promptly from Las Casas, Cortes had gathered his 
forces for a start. With a large body of Spaniards, 
and three thousand Mexicans, headed by their 
chiefs, all under the command of himself and San- 
doval, he set out by land for that region. After 
passing Coatzacuales,* where he was received 
with fire-works and every demonstration of joy, his 
march was perhaps as perilous and trying as any 
adventure of his life. It lay through a wild and 
uninhabited country, intersected by rivers, and cov- 
ered with tangled forests, which completely shut 
out the light of day. They were forced to con- 
struct bridges for passing the streams, and to 
cut their way through the thick woods that sur- 
rounded them. Starvation and disease followed 
in their track ; they ate such roots and berries as 
they could find : multitudes perished. At one time 
Cortes was compelled to punish his soldiers for seiz- 
ing and devouring some of the natives. With an 
undying perseverance he pushed his way on, and 

* At this .place they met with the brother and mother of 
Dona Marina. The mother, knowing her guilt, was almost 
afraid to meel her daughter ; but Dona Marina treated her very 
kindly, and interceded in her behalf with Cortes. 


at length reached the region for which he had 
started, only to find that all was in submission. 
Las Casas had faithfully carried out his orders. 

In the mean time,, Ponce de Leon had arrived 
in the country, but died before he was able to ex- 
ecute the King's commands. The enemies of 
Cortes, however, were still alive and active ; every 
agent sent out by the King acted as a spy upon 
the leader ; every vessel that sailed from the New 
World carried home false accusations against him. 
The Bishop of Burgos still plead with the King. 
At last his suspicions were aroused ; he became 
jealous of the growing fame and power of Cortes, 
and issued a commission to " investigate his con- 
duct, and subject him to all the rigors of justice." 

Mortified at the triumph of his enemies, the spirit 
of Cortes was still unbroken. His old veterans 
now rallied around him, and proposed that he 
should declare himself independent of the King, 
swearing that they would maintain his cause at all 
hazards. This he was unwilling to do ; yet his 
proud -spirit revolted at the thought of being sub- 
jected to a trial in that country which he had con- 
quered and ruled. He determined to present him- 
self boldly before the King, and explain his whole 
conduct. Attended by his brave officers and the 
principal chiefs of the Mexicans, and carrying a 
large part of his riches to give splendor to his ap- 
pearance, Cortes repaired to Spain. He had 


scarcely reached that country, when he met with 
a heavy sorrow. The gallant Sandoval, one of his 
attendants, died in Andalusia, on his way to the 
Spanish capital, and Cortes mourned for him as his 
noblest soldier and most devoted friend. At this 
moment, when friends were needed, his sorrow 
was felt most keenly. Arrived at the Spanish 
court, the King received him with every mark of 
friendship. Cortes was now in his native land, 
where his power was limited, and the jealousy of 
•the monarch was. for a little time forgotten. At- 
tentions were liberally bestowed upon the con- 
queror. His exploits were loudly talked of ; he 
was admitted to an intimacy with the King as great 
as that of the first grandees of the land, and re- 
ceived from him the Order of Santiago, and the 
title of Marquess of the Valle de Oaxaca. Yet 
for all this he could not obtain from him his former 
position as Captain-General of New Spain. Empty 
titles he could give him, but this embraced too much 
power, and the King held to his determination not. 
to bestow it. For two years Cortes continued at the 
court, while the superior merit of the conqueror, 
and the strong attachment of his men, only fastened 
tire King in his first conclusion. In the New 
World he might have the military command, with 
the privilege of- making new discoveries and 
conquests ; the government of that country was 
given to a board of officers, to be known as the 


Audience of New Spain* Wearied and disgusted, 
at length, in 1530, he left the kingdom and returned 
to Mexico. 

Here, again, he was in the midst of disappoint- 
ments. The Audiencia, jealous of his power, 
watched his every movement, while every plan 
proposed by him met with their decided opposi- 
tion. Backed as they were by the King and his 
ministers in Spain, it was idle for him to oppose 
them. Wearied with the little meanness of these 
men, his thoughts turned again to the pursuits of 
his early life ; he determined to embark in new 
discoveries and exploits. He had in his mind the 
thought that a passage might be found - between 
the Atlantic and Pacific oceans (or the North and 
South seas, as they were then called) somewhere 
on the eastern coast of North America, or through 
the isthmus of Panama. Accordingly, he fitted out 
expeditions to attempt these discoveries, and in- 
trusted the command to able pilots. They were, 
of course, unsuccessful in finding what they 
searched for. Disappointed in this, he now sent 
out various armaments from the western shores of 
the Mexican empire, to make discoveries in the 
South sea. The first, under the command of Men- 
doza and Mazuela, was unsuccessful. A second, 
in charge of Becerra, was fortunate enough to 

* This government was afterward superseded by that of 


reach the southern extremity of the rich peninsula 
of California ; but a mutiny arising among the men, 
destroyed the hope of further discovery. With an 
untiring energy, Cortes now made ready another 
expedition, and took the command himself. Storms 
and hardships beset him in his voyage ; yet, with 
a desperate resolution, he pressed on, reached the 
region discovered by Becerra,* and planted the 
colony of La Santa Cruz. He now returned to 
Mexico to procure supplies. Here difficulties 
again beset him, and he thought it prudent to send 
for his followers in the new colony and bring them 
home, to save them from starvation. Still resolute, 
however, as soon as he was able to do so he sent 
out another expedition, under Francisco de Ulloa. 
This likewise proved unfortunate. In these un- 
profitable enterprises it is said he spent no less 
than three hundred thousand crowns. 

His Iossh, t together with the continued jealousies 
of* the Audiencia, now prompted him again to re- 
turn to his native country, in the hope of finding 
redress. Accordingly, in 1540, he sailed home- 
ward. Upon his arrival, he found his reception 
very different from what it had been before. He 
was now known as a disappointed adventurer. 
Pizarro and Almagro had been making brilliant 

* It is commonly supposed that Cortes was the discoverer of 
California, hut the author regards Diego de Becerra as the dis- 
coverer of that peninsula. 


discoveries in Peru, and all thoughts were turned 
toward them. He was now not so much to be 
dreaded by the King. He treated him neither as 
a friend nor an enemy — worse than either, with a 
cold indifference. The ministers carried them- 
selves toward him with actual scorn. Strange as 
it may seem, this was the treatment which the 
conqueror of Mexico received in his native land ! 

For seven tedious years did he seek redress at 
the court of Spain. Day after day did he entreat 
for justice at the hands of those who managed the 
affairs of America ; day after day did he demand 
of the King that his services. should be remembered. 
No gratitude for those perilous services, however, 
could move that monarch. The man who had 
given to his country an empire in the New World 
was doomed never again to have authority in it. 
Nay, the King added insult to injury. It is said 
that on one occasion, when Cortes appeared at 
court, and was pressing through the crowd to ap- 
proach the monarch, the King, anxious to wound 
him by pretending not to know him, cried out to 
his attendants, " Who is that person ?" The an- 
swer of Cortes was direct. " Tell his Majesty," 
cried the conqueror, " that it is one who has con- 
quered for him more kingdoms than his ancestors 
left him provinces !" 

His life was well nigh ended. His continued 
disappointments mortified him ; grief over his 


broken hopes preyed upon him ; domestic afflic- 
tion rolled in to fill the cup of his misery, and he 
sank under the burden. He died on the second 
day of December, 1547, in the sixty-second year 
of his age. His remains were buried with great 
ceremony in the chapel of the Dukes of Medina 
Sidonia ; but, in obedience to a direction in his 
will, were afterward taken to the New World, and 
now rest in that city which he discovered and 
conquered, but was not allowed to rule. 







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ID 3 The greatest care is taken in selecting che works of this popu- 
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TL« following are uow ready — to be had separately, or in uniform 
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THE POPLAR GROVE ; or, Little Harry and his 

Uncle Benjamin. By Mrs. Copley. 
EARLY FRIENDSHIPS ; by Mrs. Copley. 

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of the Fiord. By Harriet Martineau. 
MASTERMAN READY; or, the Wreck of the 

Pacific. Written for Young People, by Captain 



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HOPE ON, HOPE EVER ; or, the Boyhood of Fe- 
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SOWING AND REAPING ; or, What will Come 
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Mary Howitt. 

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those who would make Home Happy. To which 
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THE TWIN SISTERS : a Tale. By Mrs. Sandham. 

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rhe Juvenile Naturalist, or Walks in the Country. By the Rev. 
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GOLDSMITH.— Essay. By Oliver Goldsmith. 

GOLDSMITH The Vicar of Wakefield. By OLIVER 


JOHNSON — The History of Easselas, Prince of Abyssinia, 
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ST. PIERRE;— Paul and Virginia ; From the French of J 
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Sach volume consists of appropriate Poetical extract! from thft 

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By the author of " Uncle Philip's," " Virginia," &c. 


founder of Virginia. By the author of " Henry Hudson," &c 


By, Anne Pratt, author of " Flowers and their Associations," <fce , 


By the author of the "Adventures of Captain John Smith," &c 

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General History of Civilization in Europe, from the Fall of the Ro- 
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